Netanyahu vows to annex illegal Hebron settlements after election win

Netanyahu vows to annex illegal Hebron settlements after election win
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that he would annex illegal Israeli settlements in Hebron if re-elected on Tuesday.
3 min read
16 September, 2019
Israeli officials called for the city's annexation two weeks ago [Getty]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expanded on his electoral pledge to annex a third of the West Bank, promising on Monday that illegal settlements in the flashpoint city of Hebron would also be annexed.

Reiterating his earlier promise to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu last week also vowed to annex the strategic Jordan Valley, which accounts for around a third of the West Bank.

The Israeli premier on Monday stated for the first time that, if re-elected on Tuesday this week, his government would also annex settlements in Hebron.
The city, located in the southern West Bank, is regarded as the second holiest in Judaism and is home to hundreds of Israeli settlers. 

But Hebron is also home to more than 200,000 Palestinians, with a post-Oslo agreement seeing the city carved in two, with hundreds forced to live in close proximity to illegal settlers who have the reputation of the most extreme and violent towards Palestinians.

Speaking to Israeli army radio, Netanyahu pledged to include the "Jewish neighbourhoods" of Hebron and the adjacent settlement of Kiryat Arba within the annexation drive.

While the Israeli premier did not clarify exactly which areas of Hebron would be annexed under the pledge, his reference to the city's "Jewish neighbourhoods" implies the full annexation of around 20 percent of Hebron.
Exempted from the Oslo Accords which gave the Palestinian Authority sovereignity over Palestinian cities, Hebron was in 1997 carved in two under the Hebron Protocol.
Some 80 percent of the city, known as H1, is under Palestinian control. The remaining 20 percent - home to hundreds of settlers - is controlled by Israel.

'Part of Israel'

Netanyahu paid a visit to Hebron two weeks ago on the 90th anniversary of the 1929 murders of more than 60 Jews in Hebron.
During the commemoration, the Israeli premier was expected by some to call for the annexation of H2 and Kiryat Arba.
While Netanyahu at that time fell short of that commitment - instead promising that Jews would "remain here forever" - two prominent Israeli officials did call for the annexation of Hebron. 
When asked on Monday whether his electoral pledge to annex Israeli settlements included Hebron and Kiryat Arba, Netanyahu replied: "Of course. They will be part of Israel.
"But I need a mandate to execute this plan," he said.
The Israeli prime minister last week clarified that the annexation of West Bank settlements would come in conjunction with US President Donald Trump's yet-to-be-announced peace plan.

While officials have said the so-called "Deal of the Century" will be announced after Tuesday's Israeli elections, an exact date for its much-anticipated unveiling is yet to be announced.

The annexation of illegal settlements in Hebron would be particularly controversial and could likely spark violence.

The Israeli occupation of the West Bank is widely seen to have hit Hebron hardest among Palestinian cities.

The joint mosque-synagogue complex that hosts the tomb of Abraham - known as both the Tomb of the Patriarchs and the Ibrahimi Mosque - was the site of the brutal massacre of 29 Palestinian worshippers by extremist Israeli settler Baruch Goldstein in 1994.

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