JERUSALEM : Naftali Bennett, expected to become Israel’s new prime minister later Sunday, said his government will back settlement construction in all areas of the occupied West Bank, including the areas classified as C areas.
Under the 1995 Oslo Accords between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, was divided into three portions – Area A, B, and C – with area C under administrative and security control of Israel until a final status agreement is reached with the Palestinians.
Bennett made the statement in a speech at a special session of the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) to hold a vote of confidence for his coalition government, which is expected to oust Benjamin Netanyahu from power.
Bennett also vowed not to allow Iran to acquire nuclear weapons, adding that Israel will boost both its defense and offense capabilities.
He also said he will maintain a cease-fire with Gaza but threatened Hamas with attacks if it chooses to escalate, and pledged to work for the return of Israeli soldiers in Hamas captivity.
Israeli official channel KAN said a number of lawmakers from the far-right Religious Zionist party were taken from the Knesset when they tried to block Bennett’s speech.
Bennett’s eight-party coalition is expected to take power later Sunday, with Bennet and centrist Yair Lapid alternating in the premier’s seat for two years, starting with Bennett.
*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara