The Israeli Ambassador to the UK has told an online audience of British Jews that any Israeli annexation of the West Bank would not extend to areas with large Palestinian populations.
Answering questions during the Board of Deputies’ plenary on Sunday, which took place online for the first time ever, Mark Regev also said it would be “only fair” that Palestinians living in towns annexed by Israel be offered full Israeli citizenship.
“I think the goal of the [Israeli] government, and of the American plan, is not to incorporate into Israel any area where there is a large Palestinian population,” he said, adding that the Jordan Valley was largely unpopulated.
He said there was a precedent for extending Israeli law, citing the extension of Israeli law in 1967 throughout all of Jerusalem, and more recently to the Golan Heights. “In both cases where we extended Israeli law of course we offered full citizenship to the inhabitants of those regions.”
He added: “If there is to be the extension of Israeli law to parts of the West Bank, my presumption is that people living in those areas will be given the option of full Israeli citizenship, I think that’s only fair.”
Regev, who will return to Israel this summer, said he thought Britain’s Jewish community was “one of the most pro-Israeli communities on the planet,” citing the high numbers of Jewish children and adults who visit Israel regularly.
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He was also asked by Vicki Harris, the Deputy for Hampstead Garden Suburb United Synagogue, if Israel paid any attention to the comments of philanthropists “who believe that they have the right to go to press criticising the Israeli government”.
Harris’s question is believed to have been aimed at the comments of Sir Mick Davis in an opinion piece published by Jewish News last week. In it he criticised Benjamin Netanyahu for prioritising his continued tenure, and for opposition parties for entering into coalition with the man they swore to oust.
Regev said anyone claiming to speak for British Jewry did so “with a certain amount of hubris,” arguing that British Jews harboured a range of opinions on Israel.