Israeli Minister calls for annexation of parts of the West Bank
The time has come for Israel to annex swaths of Judea and Samaria in response to the Palestinian Authority's rapprochement with the Islamist group Hamas, Economy Minister Naftali Bennett told foreign press members on Sunday.
"The Oslo era is nearing its end," the head of the pro-settler Bayit Yehudi party said. "The new era will be known as 'the realistic era'."
Bennett called on the government to apply Israeli law to Area C, the regions of the territories designated under the Oslo Accords as those to be administered completely by Israel.
"In the realistic era, we need to learn to live in co-existence," he said. "Whoever looks at the reality understands that we will not reach a peace treaty in the foreseeable future, and we need to think of what we should do."
Bennett said that he favored improving the economic lot of the Palestinians by attracting more foreign investment, while offering those Palestinians living in Area C Israeli citizenship.
The economy minister said that he favored a brand of Palestinian self-rule - or "autonomy on steroid" - that fell short of full-fledged statehood.
"This is the best that we can hope for today," he said.
Bennett said that the Israeli government has already set the precedent of annexing territory it captured in the Six-Day War - a reference to east Jerusalem and the Golan Heights - and that such a step would be appropriate considering the unilateral measures adopted by the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah.
"I know it's not as attractive as 'the perfect solution' of two states for two nations, but this is the reality," he said. "We must live together. Peace should be reflected on the ground, and while there may not be a great love there, we do live together, and this is the reality."