WASHINGTON – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Tuesday that the first stage of applying Israeli sovereignty to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, the Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea will be brought before the government on Sunday.
Hours later, sources in his Likud party said the issue would not be brought before the cabinet on Sunday, however.
After U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his plan, Netanyahu said that the U.S. recognized the applying of Israeli law to these areas.
Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who was asked at a conference about the option of annexation during an interim government, said it was too early to tell: “On the day the government turns [to me], we will examine it legally in accordance to the laws that we know.” According to Mendelblit, the government “will have to explain why it is urgent and why it must be done before the election.”
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In a briefing with reporters, Netanyahu said the international community has threatened for years that applying Israeli law on West Bank territories would result in UN Security Council sanctions. “That is why we didn’t annex,” he said, adding that the U.S. recognition would prevent such an outcome.
Netanyahu added that applying sovereignty would occur in two phases: At the next cabinet meeting, Israeli law would be applied to the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea and all of the West Bank settlements. After that, he said, and in coordination with the U.S., the next phase would be applying Israeli law to more territories surrounding the settlements.
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Following Trump's unveiling of the plan Netanyahu thanked Trump for recognizing Israeli sovereignty over settlements in the West Bank: "For too long, far too long, the very heart of the Land of Israel where our patriarchs prayed, our prophets preached and our kings ruled has been outrageously branded as illegally occupied territory. Well today Mr. President, you are puncturing this big lie. You are recognizing Israel's sovereignty over all of the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, large and small alike"
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said that in unveiling the peace plan, "Trump and Netanyahu declared the slap of the century, not the deal. And we will respond with slaps." He stressed that the position of the Palestinian leadership has not changed, "We say a thousand times over: No, no, no." Additionally, Abbas said that the Palestinian Authority will respond with immediate steps, including changes to the mission of the authority, but did not specify more.