Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu hinted at the possibility of applying sovereignty to the West Bank settlements on Sunday, hours after the body of terror victim Dvir Sorek was found with stab wounds in Gush Etzion.
“We promised to build hundreds of housing units. Today we are doing it, both because we promised and because our mission is to establish the nation of Israel in our country,” Netanyahu said during a visit to the Beit El settlement, where he participated in a ceremony for a 650-housing unit neighborhood.
“We know that the Land of Israel is bought in agony,” Netanyahu continued. “Today another one of our sons fell. He was from a family that has already made a heavy sacrifice for the Land of Israel. These vicious terrorists: They come to uproot, we come to plant. They come to destroy, we come to build. Our hands will reach out and we will deepen our roots in our homeland – in all parts of it.”
Later in the day, he visited the site where Sorek’s body was found, just outside the Migdal Oz settlement where Sorek was a student.
“We lost a dear son of the Sorek family,” Netanyahu said at the site. “We embrace the family,” and he added, “we will apprehend them and bring them to justice.” Netanyahu said the investigation is ongoing, and that the turn the car made after the murder was evident at the site.
Throughout the day, a number of right-wing politicians and settler leaders called out for Netanyahu to annex Area C of the West Bank settlements in response to the attack.
Former justice minister and United Right leader Ayelet Shaked said this week in an interview with The Jerusalem Post that she supports the annexation of Area C. She made similar statements to Army Radio in the aftermath of the attack.
“We have to apply sovereignty to Judea and Samaria,” she said. “Gush Etzion is in consensus and there is no reason not to apply sovereignty there.”
During the last election, Netanyahu promised to apply sovereignty to the settlements, but has not spoken about sovereignty during this election cycle.
It’s presumed that such a unilateral move on Israel’s part would complicate the Trump administration’s push to advance its peace plan.
Other Likud politicians have been more vocal in support. Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein said that, “our response to the murder has to be [to] apply sovereignty on the settlements, starting with Gush Etzion.”
Gush Etzion Regional Council head Shlomo Ne’eman said the only response to the attack was the application of sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, and Gush Etzion in particular.
The Sovereignty Movement issued a similar call, explaining that such attacks would continue to occur as long as Judea and Samaria is not under “Israeli sovereignty.”
“It is either us or them! This is a 52-year-old struggle that must be resolved. Sovereignty will bring resolution and will erase the hope of pushing us out of here through terror attacks,” the movement said in a statement.
“The resolution must be clear and unambiguous – we have returned to the heritage of our fathers, we will bring another million Jews here, we will build dozens of communities,” it continued. “The Arabs are invited to live under our sovereignty as individuals and enjoy a prosperous life as residents.”
Politicians across the political spectrum spoke out against the attack.
President Reuven Rivlin expressed his support for security forces “who are now chasing the murderers,” and vowed “we will not rest until we catch them.” Rivlin said that when “faced with terrible terror, we will act with a harsh, uncompromising hand for the well-being of our citizens wherever they may be.”
Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich (Union of Right-Wing Parties) responded on social media by slamming the PA, which he called first among those who support, speak out in favor of and send terrorists, he called to restore Israeli deterrence and “extract a heavy price.”
Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman tied the attack to what he called “surrendering to Gaza terror: The security services are aware of dozens of plans to carry out attacks against Jews. When we use the term ‘understandings,’ we are using news-speak for what is in fact surrendering to terror.”
Education Minister Rafi Peretz (Bayit Yehudi) said that “the heart aches over a youth picked in the beginning of his life” and called for “a clear message, the spilling of Jewish blood will not be forgiven.”
Labor head Amir Peretz commended the IDF for finding the body and said he expects the soldiers to likewise nab the responsible terrorist or terrorists “quickly.”
Blue and White’s Gabi Ashkenazi called the attack “another proof of the erosion” of Israel’s security situation, while Blue and White MK Moshe Ya’alon sent his condolences to Sorek’s family via Twitter.
The US Middle East mediator Jason Greenblatt tweeted his condolences to the family and condemned Hamas for congratulating the murderer.
“More murder & boasting by Hamas – reprehensible actions by an org[anization] that chooses death & destruction over taking care of the people they claim to lead,” he wrote.