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Israeli official: Annexation of settlements would lead to 'disaster'

June 8, 2014 8:48 A.M. (Updated: June 9, 2014 5:47 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid said Sunday that he would bring down Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyuhu's government should the latter attempt to annex Jewish-only West Bank settlements, according to Israeli media.

"Extreme right-wing forces are pushing us toward the delusional idea of annexation, which will lead us to the disaster called a bi-national state," Haaretz quoted Lapid as saying at a conference for national policy.

"I don't know if this is a public relations exercise or a true intention, but we will not allow this to happen. If there is an attempt to annex even one settlement unilaterally, Yesh Atid will not only bolt the government, it will bring it down."

The phrase "bi-national state" refers to the idea of Israel as a country comprised of a comparable number of Palestinian Arabs and Israeli Jews, an idea many Israelis see as a threat to Israel's Jewish character.

Haaretz reported that Lapid -- founder of the Yesh Atid political party -- also called on the Israeli PM to present a map of Israel's borders with a future Palestinian state.

Lapid, speaking at the annual Herzliya Conference, additionally presented a new Israeli-Palestinian plan for peace, the Israeli newspaper said.

The plan would involve the evacuation of "isolated" West Bank settlements during negotiations as a goodwill measure.

Additionally, Lapid told the conference that world powers' rejection of Netanyahu's calls to not to recognize the new Palestinian government implied that Israel was losing international support.

"We are in an unprecedented crisis with the United States," Lapid said as quoted by Haaretz.

"This crisis is the result of problematic and at times contemptuous handling of affairs on our side, but it is still possible -- and necessary -- to return our special relationship with the United States to the right path. This will be the first step on the way back to the negotiating table."

Israel announced plans to build thousands of settlement homes across the occupied West Bank throughout the last round of peace talks, infuriating Palestinians.

The international community considers Israel's settlement enterprise illegal.
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