Israeli parliamentarians and settler leaders have criticised Prime Minister Naftali Bennett for using the term “West Bank” during a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Sunday.
They said that the extremist, right-wing Bennett should have used “Judea and Samaria” to refer to the West Bank, which is occupied Palestinian territory.
Speaking at a press conference with Blinken, Bennett said that his government is “working very hard to improve the lives of the Palestinians in the West Bank and in Gaza.” According to the CEO of the municipal council of the illegal settlements, Yigal Dilmon, this was “another moral lapse” by the government. Bennett chaired this council from 2010 to 2012 before running for political office.
The Times of Israel reported Dilmon as adding: “Such an expression is another sign of this government’s moral decline. This is in addition to freezing settlement construction and turning its back on the settlements. A government like this should go home.”
Knesset Member Ofir Sofer of the Religious Zionism party said that, “It isn’t surprising for such an expression to come from a person who aligns himself with terror supporters and anti-Zionists.” This was a reference to the Islamist Ra’am Party. Similar criticism was made by Amichai Chikli MK.
Bennett’s office said that his use of the term “West Bank” was “accidental”. Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked called it a “mistake”.