Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Saturday said that he would annex settlements in the occupied West Bank if he wins the Tuesday's elections.
"I am going to apply Israeli sovereignty, but I do not distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements. From my perspective, each of those settlement points is Israeli. We have the responsibility [for them] as the government of Israel. I don't uproot any, and I won't transfer them to the sovereignty of the Palestinians. I take care of them all," Times of Israel quoted Benjamin as saying.
Netanhayu made these remarks during an interview to a news channel just three days before Israel's Presidential elections where he is facing a tight race for re-election. Recent polls have shown his rightwing Likud party just behind the Blue and White party, run by a former Israeli army chief Benny Gantz.
According to some of his officials, last month's US's recognition of Golan Heights as Israel part has reportedly, bolstered Netanyahu to further claim West Bank. Netanyahu believes US President Donald Trump "would give him backing and legitimization to annex or extend Israeli law to all West Bank settlements or at least some of the blocs," an anonymous Israel official said. However, Netanyahu made it clear to Trump that he did not intend to evacuate "a single person" from any West Bank settlements.
However, Turkey has reportedly reacted on the Netanhayu's comment with sharp criticism, terming it as "irresponsible".
"Prime Minister Netanyahu's irresponsible statement to seek votes just before the Israeli general elections cannot and will not change this fact," Turkey Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu tweeted.
West Bank is a disputed territory, with Israel and Palestinians equally claiming it. Over 400,000 Jews live in West Bank settlements. Another 200,000-plus live in East Jerusalem neighborhoods annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.