Economy Minister Naftali Bennett on Sunday proposed that Israel annex parts of the West Bank under its full military control where most Jewish settlers live.
“I favour implementation of Israeli sovereignty over the zone where 400,000 (settlers) live and only 70,000 Arabs,” said the head of the far-right Jewish Home religious party in the ruling coalition.
The finance ministry, meanwhile, has decided to allocate an extra $26 million to build settler homes in the Palestinian territory rather than implement cuts as earlier planned, according to the website of Israel’s private Channel 10 television.
The Palestinians have long viewed the construction of Jewish settlements on land they see as part of their future state as among the biggest obstacles to resolving their decades-old conflict with Israel.
Bennett also ridiculed the US-brokered peace talks between Israel and Palestinian leader Mahmud Abbas, whose writ covers the West Bank but not Gaza, ruled by the Islamist movement Hamas.
“This is all a joke. It’s as if we’re discussing the purchase of a car with only half of its owners,” he told public radio.
In another negative Israeli assessment of the peace process, Defence Minister Moshe Yaalon said Saturday: “There is no partner on the Palestinian side to reach a two-state solution for two peoples.”
Their views contrasted with a statement by US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday at the end of his latest mission to Israel and the Palestinian territories.
“I believe we are closer than we have been in years to bringing about the peace and the prosperity and the security that all of the people of this region deserve,” Kerry told reporters.
Direct negotiations were launched in late July but have made little apparent progress as they approach the half-way mark of a targeted nine months.