Photo Credit: Hillel Maeir / TPS
Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and Minister of Environmental Protection Ze'ev Elkin at the 15th Jerusalem Conference

by Yona Schnitzer

Israel should apply Israeli sovereignty to Judea and Samaria, regardless of the United States position on the matter, Minister of Jerusalem Affairs Ze’ev Elkin said Tuesday.

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Elkin’s comments followed a statement by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday that he had been talking with the United States for some time about the sovereignty law that would extend Israeli civil jurisdiction to settlements in Judea and Samaria, and the subsequent denial of such talks by the White House.

Elkin told the 15th annual Jerusalem Conference that the issue of whether or not talks on annexation have taken place between Netanyahu and the Trump administration is not important, and that the focus should be whether or not applying sovereignty to Judea and Samaria is an Israeli interest.

“I think that the discourse surrounding this issue is focusing on the wrong question,” Elkin said. “It doesn’t really interest me whether or not the issue was brought up with the Americans. I think we should be focused on two questions: One, is applying Israeli sovereignty throughout Judea and Samaria a vital interest of the State of Israel, to which I say unequivocally, yes. And the second question is, should we be promoting [annexation] despite the objection of the international community, to which I also unequivocally answer, yes.”

Elkin gave Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights in 1981 as an example that ultimately, Israel should do what it think serves its interests best, regardless of the American position.

“The annexation of the Golan Heights was against the position of President [Ronald] Reagan, who was a very pro-Israel president, and he even imposed sanctions on Israel as a result,” Elkin said. “Today, nobody remembers President Reagan’s sanctions, but we are left with full Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights.”

When asked if Israel should ignore the Trump administration’s position, Elkin said: “If what is right for the State of Israel is against the American stance, then we must do what is right for Israel and against the American stance.”

Asked whether Netanyahu supports that position, Elkin said, “You’d have to ask him.”

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