'This place is ours': Israeli minister calls for annexation of West Bank
Israel's 'Heritage' Minister Amichai Eliyahu has called on the far-right Israeli government to annex the occupied West Bank "as quickly as possible."
In an interview with Israel’s Army Radio, Eliyahu – from the far-right Otzma Yehudit (Jewish Power) party – said "sovereignty must be extended within the borders of the West Bank as well, and in the most prudent way, to create international recognition that this place is ours."
Israel has occupied the West Bank since 1967 and Israeli Jewish settlements in the territory are illegal under international law. Around 700,000 settlers live there.
"There is no green line, it is a fictitious line that creates a distorted reality and must be erased," the minister added.
The Green Line refers to the demarcation line agreed on in the 1949 Armistice Agreements between Israel and Arab armies following the Nakba. It served as Israel’s de-facto frontier until the 1967 Middle East war when Israel annexed more Arab territory, in what became known as the Naksa.
Eliyahu’s comments came after a number of Israeli settlers were reportedly injured on Tuesday in the Ma'ale Adumim settlement near occupied East Jerusalem.
Israeli media claimed that a Palestinian gunman opened fire at people at a shopping centre before being shot dead by police.
"Israel's treatment as if there are two states here is a mistake. We must impose sovereignty on Judea and Samaria," the hardline official wrote on Twitter, using the biblical terms for the West Bank.
Several ministers from Benjamin Netanyahu’s hardline government have made similar comments about annexing the entire West Bank, or other inflammatory statements about the Palestinians.
These ministers include National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir, who has stormed the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound several times, and Finance Minister Bezalel Smotrich, who last year said the Palestinian town of Hawara should be wiped out.
Despite pressure from allies including the US, the Israeli government has vowed to continue building and expanding settlements.