Wilders urges Israel to annex West Bank

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Dutch anti-Islam politician Geert Wilders has called on Israel to settle the West Bank. In a speech Mr Wilders gave in Tel Aviv on Sunday, he urged Israel to build more settlements in "Judea and Samaria", as the West Bank was historically known, in defiance of international calls for a construction freeze.

The Freedom Party leader said that Israel needs defendable borders for its own survival and security: "A county that is only 15 kilometres wide is impossible to defend. That is the strategic reason why Jews need to settle Judea and Samaria".

Mr Wilders also said Palestinians should be allowed to voluntarily settle in Jordan. The country could then rename itself Palestine and the Palestinians could "freely elect their own government in Amman."  The Dutch politician said there was no reason for the Jordanian king to become nervous: "If the present Hashemite King is still as popular as today, he can remain in power. That is for the people of Palestine to decide in real democratic elections."

He told his audience that the West too often points an accusing finger at Israel, which, according to Mr Wilders "is not to blame for the situation in the Middle East." The Dutch politician said he knew why the Palestinians are a problem in Israel: "Because the Palestinians were not welcomed in the neighbouring Arab countries. There was no Arab solidarity; the refugees were forced into camps and slums, where many of their descendants still linger today."

Mr Wilders also said that the United Nations has not handled the situation well: "Under international definitions the status of refugee or displaced person only applies to first generation refugees. However... descendants of Palestinian refugees are granted the same refugee status as their ancestors. Consequently, the number of so-called Palestinian refugees registered with the UN increased from 711,000 in 1950 to over 4.7 million in 2010. These refugees are being used as a demographic weapon against Israel."

Mr Wilders said the Jews had built new lives for themselves in Israel and that Palestinians should do the same in Jordan. The situation could then slowly return to normal, even though he warned that: "Islam... conditions Muslims to hate Jews. It is a religious duty to do so." He said it made him sick to see how Western leaders refuse to acknowledge that Israel plays a vital role in the region: "If Israel falls, the West falls. That is why we are all Israel."

Unlike his former personal visits to Israel, Wilders was in Tel Aviv on Sunday as the result of an official invitation by Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.