Netanyahu will annex West Bank settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has vowed to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank if he wins another term of office in next week’s elections.

“I won’t clear a single settlement. And I will naturally ensure that we control the area west of the Jordan River,” Netanyahu said during an interview on Saturday with Israeli television.

Israel has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 Six-Day War and hundreds of thousands of Jewish-Israelis are now living in the territory, which is claimed by Palestinians for their future state.

“Will we be in a position to ensure our safety and control over the essential regions of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]? We have seen what we got by withdrawing from the Gaza Strip,” said the leader of the right-wing Likud party.

Netanyahu claimed a withdrawal from the area could risk a “Gaza Strip in Judea and Samaria”. Israel withdrew from the Gaza Strip in 2005, before the Islamist Hamas movement took control of the Palestinian coastal enclave in 2007.

Read the article in the Illawarra Mercury (AAP).