Gantz on Annexation: Wherever We Apply Israeli Law, Palestinians Will Have Full Rights

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Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, June 16, 2020.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, June 16, 2020.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg

Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz said on Friday that he conditions annexing parts of the West Bank on granting full rights to Palestinians living in areas in which Israeli law will be applied.

Gantz, who also acts as defense minister, said he would act to promote bilateral steps with the Palestinians in an attempt to jumpstart a diplomatic process based upon U.S. President Donald Trump's "Deal of the Century."

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"This week I defined several parameters for diplomatic moves made by Israel," Gantz wrote in a Facebook post. "We will not apply Israeli law in places in which there are many Palestinians or in cases where we would harm their mobility; if there'll be Palestinian citizens in regions where Israeli law is applied, they will have equal rights."

"Preliminary work will be done in both diplomatic and security capacities to ensure we will not harm the country's safety, as well as our peace agreements and strategic assets," he added.

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The Israeli government has expressed it's intention to begin the process of annexing parts of the Jordan Valley on July 1.

Earlier on Friday, Gantz blamed the Palestinians for the freeze in peace talks, and claimed that "if they request to conduct serious negotiations, I'm willing to be in Ramallah tomorrow morning and discuss it."

"The question is not whether I will be prime minister at the end of the rotation, but how the Israeli state and society will look ‒ which is in the midst of a health, economic and social crisis ‒ and what is right for it. This is the only thing that we're here for, that I have entered politics for," Gantz added.

On Tuesday, Gantz said that Israel "Won't keep waiting for the Palestinians" if they refuse to hold talks on the proposed annexation of parts of the West Bank, as part of U.S. President Donald Trump's Middle East plan.

“We won’t get into the Palestinians' deep shit,” Gantz said at a press briefing. “The Palestinians continue to reject dialogue and to remain in their ‘deep shit.’”

Senior defense officials have expressed reservations about unilateral annexation. Israeli annexation of up to 30 percent of the West Bank is an element of the Trump administration's peace plan that was made public in January, which also calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state. Final maps of what that 30 per cent would include have not been finalized between Israel and the United States, but would encompass all of the Jewish settlements in the territory as well as the Jordan Valley.

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