The central committee of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party on Monday voted for a resolution urging Likud parliamentarians to push to annex the occupied West Bank. The non-binding vote by the party’s decision-making committee called on its MPs “to spread Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria (the West Bank)”.
Netanyahu, who is a member of the central committee, was not present for the vote. The prime minister says he still supports a two-state solution with the Palestinians, although he has also pushed for Jewish settlement expansion in the West Bank, which has been under Israeli occupation for 50 years.
In October, Netanyahu decided to postpone a vote on a controversial bill that critics say would amount to the de facto annexation of Israeli settlements surrounding Jerusalem. The bill had been expected to be voted on by a ministerial committee in a move that would fast-track its progress through parliament.
Israel occupied the West Bank, including east Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967. It later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community. It sees the entire city as its indivisible capital, while the Palestinians want the eastern sector as the capital of their future state.
Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law and widely seen as the main obstacle to peace. More than 600,000 Jewish settlers live in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem among 2.9 million Palestinians, with frequent outbreaks of violence. Likud’s central committee counts around 3,700 members, and according to Israeli media some 1,500 were present for Sunday’s vote.—Agencies