Netanyahu Says Will Continue to Discuss Annexation With U.S. as Israel Reaches Target Date

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, June 29, 2020.
Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a press conference in Jerusalem, June 29, 2020.Credit: Olivier Fitoussi/Pool via Flash90
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that he would continue to discuss annexing parts of the West Bank with the Trump administration, after missing his July 1 target date.

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In addition, Netanyahu said the matter was discussed on Wednesday with National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat and Israel's security brass, adding that "additional discussions will be held in the coming days."

Also on Wednesday, France's foreign minister said that any Israeli annexation in the West Bank would be in violation of international law and would have consequences.

"Annexation of Palestinian territories, whatever the perimeters, would seriously throw into question the parameters to resolve the conflict," Jean-Yves Le Drian told a parliamentary hearing.

"An annexation decision could not be left without consequences and we are examining different options at a national level and also in coordination with our main European partners.

Speaking at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Netanyahu said he met with Trump’s envoy Avi Berkowitz and U.S. Ambassador David Friedman, “and spoke with them about sovereignty. It’s an issue we’re working on.”

On Monday, alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz met with Berkowitz and Friedman, and told them that "July 1 is not a sacred date." 

Israeli soldiers guard a bus station at the Tapuach junction next to the West Bank city of Nablus, Tuesday, June 30, 2020. Credit: Oded Balilty,AP

Gantz also said alluding to annexation that "anything that is not related to the coronavirus will wait," adding 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."  

Netanyahu responded by saying that the issue is not up to Gantz and his Kahol Lavan party to decide.

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.

Earlier on Friday Gantz also said he would only support annexing parts of the West Bank as long as Palestinians living there are granted full rights.

In an interview with the Israel Hayom daily earlier in May, Netanyahu said that Palestinians residing in the Jordan Valley would not be granted Israeli citizenship after the region is annexed by Israel, but will remain citizens of a future Palestinian entity.

The Jordan Valley, which is strategically important partly because it encompasses the border between the West Bank and Jordan, is widely considered to be one of the most likely targets of Israel's plans for partial annexation.

The plans focus on the region known as "Area C" in the language of the Oslo Accords, which represents as much as 60 per cent of the West Bank as a whole and is already under full Israeli control. This is an area where the population of Israeli settlers is larger than that of Palestinians. 

Reuters contributed to this report.

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