Netanyahu Presents Gantz With Scenarios for Annexation, Including a ‘Symbolic’ Step

Netanyahu presents coalition partner with scenarios ranging from full annexation of 30 percent of West Bank land to a much milder, 'symbolic' step

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Benny Gantz (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu at a government meeting, Jerusalem, June 7, 2020.
Benny Gantz (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu at a government meeting, Jerusalem, June 7, 2020.Credit: Mark Israel Sallem
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented Defense Minister Benny Gantz with a series of possible annexation scenarios Wednesday, including a purely "symbolic" step.

LISTEN: How Netanyahu could fudge annexation, hoodwink Gantz and cling on to power

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Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud colleague Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin met with Benny Gantz and Foreign Affairs Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, both from Kahol Lavan, amid uncertainty regarding the exact shape and timeline of the prime minister's declared intention to annex portions of the West Bank.

There’s still no final map, still no green light from the United States and still no agreement between Likud and Kahol Lavan. 

According to sources familiar with the content of the meeting, a number of scenarios were discussed, ranging from the annexation of 30 percent of the West Bank, as slated in the Trump Mideast peace plan, to a far more "symbolic" move.

In a tweet on Wednesday night, Abu Dhabi's Crown Prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan said that he assured Jordan's "King Abdullah in our phone conversation of UAE's full solidarity with Jordan & our categorical rejection of accepting Israel's illegal annexation of Palestinian lands."

He said that the country is "working with our Arab brethren & the international community against this illegal move."

Netanyahu has boasted about starting the process of annexation as early as July 1, but has faced unexpected difficulties, both at home and abroad.

Netanyahu needs the support of both the Trump administration and of Kahol Lavan in order to go ahead with the plan. At the heart of the issue is the map, which an Israeli-American team has allegedly been working on since January.

The prime minister admitted earlier this month he still does not know what his coalition partner's position on the issue really is, and despite intense mediation by the U.S. diplomatic delegation to Israel, no clear results are forthcoming.

The possibility of a more limited move has become a viable option. Kahol Lavan leaders are careful to stress both publicly and privately that they do not support unilateral annexation, but want it to take place in coordination with the international community and the countries in the region, particularly Jordan and the Gulf states.

More than anyone else, Jordan has been on the offensive lately, drawing a red line on annexation, and attempting to convince United States lawmakers to expressly withdraw their support for the Trump plan. But some argue that the Abdullah administration is pragmatic, and might be enclined to agree to some negotiated position, as long as it keeps the Palestinians in the loop. 

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