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Israel and the West Bank

Full annexation of the occupied West Bank and repudiation of any agreements with the Palestinian Authority are scheduled for an October vote in Israel’s legislative body, the Knesset.

The West Bank consists of 3,504 square miles — smaller than Rhode Island — that include portions of ancient Judea and Samaria, including Bethlehem, Hebron, Jericho and eastern Jerusalem. As part of the 1948 U.N partition of the Holy Land, a resolution designated the area as an Arab territory. The area was annexed by Jordan after the 1948 war, but captured by Israel in the 1967 Six-Day War. About 1.2 million residents today are Arabs and 519,750 are Israelis.

Knesset Deputy Speaker Danny Danon authored the annexation bill, which he told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency nullifies all financial obligations between Israel and the Palestinians.

“If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership,” Danon told  JTA, referring to the PA’s statehood bid at the United Nations. “The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements.”

The bill was submitted in line with a similar initiative in the U.S. Congress offered by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), which calls for supporting Israel’s rights to annex the West Bank should the Palestinian Authority move forward with its statehood bid without negotiating.

Meanwhile, JTA reports, a separate letter signed by the leaders of Israel’s four ruling coalition factions — Likud Party chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach and National Union leader Yaakov Katz — asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex Jewish-settled areas of the West Bank and calls for increased construction in those areas.

The letter also calls for additional sanctions against the Palestinians and not allowing any country that cooperates with their statehood bid to mediate future peace talks.

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