Israeli PM vows to 'extend sovereignty' to West Bank settlements

Israeli PM vows to 'extend sovereignty' to West Bank settlements

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he has told US President Donald Trump that Israel would not remove "even one person" from a settlement as part of a future peace plan.

"I don't know whether it will be before the elections", he said of the Khan al-Ahmar expulsion, which set off intense worldwide criticism after the village was marked for demolition to make way for an expanded Jewish settlement.

"We got you something that you wanted", Trump said of the embassy move, adding, "Unlike other presidents, I keep my promises".

"The answer is yes, we will move to the next stage", he said.

Graham also suggested the Republican-controlled U.S. Senate would vote in a month or so to formally recognize Israeli sovereignty over the disputed Golan Heights and force Democrats to go on the record on the issue.

Netanyahu was pressed in a live television interview Saturday night over why he had not already annexed settlement blocs like Maale Adumim and Gush Etzion, two large Jewish communities built on occupied territory on the outskirts of Jerusalem.

Roughly 2.8 million Palestinians live in the West Bank under the control of the Israeli military, and some 400,000 Israelis live in the territory in settlements which are illegal under global law - as would be their annexation by Israel, since the territory was acquired by war.

The Palestinians want to establish a state in the West Bank, east Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip, all territory Israel captured in 1967. The West Bank remains under Israeli military occupation with limited Palestinian self-rule. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

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In March, Mr Trump broke with decades of global consensus by recognising Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, territory Israel captured from Syria.

Israel's prime minister has aligned closely with Donald Trump in his battle for political survival ahead of Tuesday's elections a troubling tactic for the roughly 75% of American Jewish voters who lean Democratic. The settlements have also been the most contentious sticking point in the peace negotiations between Israeli and Palestinian leaders, and the talks have remained stalled since 2014.

Netanyahu's annexation remark comes just three days before the election and is likely an appeal to right-wing voters who are overwhelmingly supportive of the settler movement.

On Friday, the last day polling is allowed, Mr Gantz's centrist Blue and White party was projected to take 30 seats, more than the 26 forecast for Netanyahu's right-wing Likud, according to a poll in Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper.

"Such a statement by Netanyahu is not surprising", Dr. Saeb Erekat, a top Palestinian official, said in response to the prime minister's comments on Saturday.

Netanyahu did not say whether he would seek to annex areas now under Palestinian control under the Oslo Accords.

Netanyahu said yesterday his position on settlers had also been relayed to the former United States president.

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