Hinting at Annexation Date, Gantz Says 'Anything Not Related to Coronavirus Will Wait'

Earlier Monday, Gantz met with Trump envoy Avi Berkowitz and Ambassador David Friedman and told them July 1st is 'not a sacred date'

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz at a cabinet meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 21, 2020.
Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz at a cabinet meeting in the Knesset in Jerusalem, June 21, 2020.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Alternate Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday that "anything that is not related to the coronavirus will wait." His comments at a party meeting come two days before Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's target date of July 1 to annex parts of the West Bank.

Gantz added that the battle against the coronavirus would be long, “and that's exactly why Kahol Lavan, together with Likud, established this unity government and prevented a fourth election."  

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Earlier on Monday, Gantz met with President Donald Trump's Special Envoy Avi Berkowitz and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman to discuss the Trump administration's peace plan.

According to sources in Gantz's party, he told them that the target date of July 1st "is not a sacred date." According to Gantz, before moving forward with annexation, "people must be returned to their jobs and the coronavirus must be dealt with."

According to sources, Gantz said in the meeting that Trump's peace plan "is a historic move that constitutes the right and the best framework for promoting peace in the Middle East." He added that the plan must move forward together with "the strategic partners in the region and the Palestinians, and reach an outline that benefits all sides proportionally, responsibly and reciprocally."

On Friday, Gantz said that Palestinians will have full rights wherever Israeli law is applied. 

"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.

Overnight Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented on the case for Israeli unilateral annexation of settlements in the West Bank in a speech at a virtual conference of the Christians United for Israel organization.

Speaking about the religious significance of biblical sites in the West Bank, Netanyahu praised Trump for presenting a Middle East plan that allows Israel to annex these territories, which have been under military occupation since 1967.

The prime minister's speech comes amid discussions between senior Israeli and American officials regarding unilateral annexation of parts of the West Bank. The Trump administration is expected to give Israel a green light to go ahead with annexation, but the scope and timeline has yet to be determined.

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