Tensions are mounting within Israel’s right-wing bloc over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s declared bid to adopt the U.S. Administration’s regional peace initiative, which includes – among others – Washington backing of Jerusalem to assert its sovereignty over a portion of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and parts of the Biblical districts of Judea and Samaria; which amounts to about 30 percent of the disputed territories. The opponents of the deal include several prominent settler leaders, including David Elhayani who is the Chairman of the Yesha Council, an umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities that are situated on disputed territories exclusively and actively promote the Jewish settlement of the West Bank and Gaza Strip as part of their declared goal ‘to return the Jewish people to their ancestral Homeland.’ In an interview to the domestic Haaretz daily, Elhayani condemned the American peace initiative over the fact that in its essence ‘it aims to grant the Palestinians statehood on the ancestral homeland of the Jewish people’ which the Yesha council fervently opposes. Elhayani further proclaimed that President Trump’s proposal proved that he “is not a friend of Israel.” In response to this interview, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rebuked Elhayani for his ‘ridiculous allegations’ which are ‘seemingly tainted by his obstinate attitude.’ The Israeli premier was quoted by the domestic Yedioth Ahronoth daily as saying “President Trump is a great friend. He has led historic moves for Israel’s benefit. It is regrettable that instead of showing gratitude, his friendship has been repudiated.” It is important to mention that David Elhayani does not have the support of the entire Yesha council, which is torn over the American so-called regional vision for peace. Among others, the Mayor of the West Bank settlement of Elkana Asaf Mintzer was quoted by domestic media as saying “The settler movement has been waiting for 50 years for the application of Israeli law, which will mean citizenship with equal rights. Are we going to throw that away? First of all, we have to accept what is (offered).”
While the Israeli right-wing camp is seemingly projecting a tear over the prospects of Jerusalem’s evident bid to adopt the Trump Administration’s so-called “deal of the century” in its entirety; a study by the Israel Democracy Institute revealed that half of the Israeli public supports the application of Jerusalem’s sovereignty over the internationally disputed territories. According to the study, dubbed “the Israeli Voice Index for May 2020”, the 50 percent of Israeli citizens that support Israeli annexation are also divided down the middle vis-à-vis whether to advance with or without American support. In contrast, less than a third of Israelis oppose asserting Jerusalem’s sovereignty over the West Bank, while a staggering 20 percent of Israelis said they have no clear position on the issue. The study further found that a 58 percent of the Israeli public believes that applying sovereignty over the disputed territories will cause the Palestinians to launch a third intifada, which is the Arabic term for a popular uprising that is usually afflicted with violent components.