Israel backs down over land grab
Washington has not given green light for annexing a third of West Bank, analysts tell Arab News Benjamin Netanyahu threatened to act on July 1 but coalition partner Benny Gantz wants delay
Israel is expected to back down over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s threat to annex swaths of the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
The new land grab is part of US President Donald Trump’s IsraeliPalestinian “peace plan,” unveiled in January, which proposes Israeli sovereignty over a third of the West Bank and the creation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu had threatened to begin annexations on Wednesday, but no session of the Israeli Cabinet is scheduled and analysts told Arab News on Tuesday they expected no significant moves. Wadie Abunassar, director of the International Centre for Consultation in Haifa, said there were three reasons for Netanyahu’s failure to carry out the threat.
“He has not received the green light from the Americans yet, he has received several strong messages from Arab and foreign countries, and despite all the attention Netanyahu has no political need to take such a step now.” Palestinian leaders, the UN, European powers and the Gulf states have all denounced the proposed annexation of land that Israel captured in the 1967 war.
In addition, Netanyahu’s coalition partner Benny Gantz, leader of the Blue and White party, has urged a delay until the coronavirus pandemic has receded.
Israeli Education Minister Zeev Elkin dismissed the likelihood of any immediate annexations. “Whoever painted a picture of everything happening in one day, on July 1, did so at their own risk,” he said on Tuesday. “From tomorrow, the clock will start ticking.” Hani Al-Masri, head of the Masarat think tank in Ramallah, said the Palestinian leadership was keeping its options open.
“They are waiting to see the results of the US elections in November, and will be more worried about annexation during the transitional period if President Trump loses, but if Trump wins the Palestinian side will be in big trouble,” he said.
Ofer Zalzberg, a senior analyst with the International Crisis Group, told Arab News: “It is true no annexation will take place on July 1, but it too early to celebrate. Israel will return to the White House to see if US presidential adviser Jared Kushner will agree to allow Netanyahu to push through the annexation without the support of the Blue and White Party.”
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Unquestioning White House support may be driving the Israeli PM’s expansionary ambition of a West Bank land grab