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

Arab News - - Front Page - Daoud Kut­tab Am­man

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.”

OPIN­ION

Is­raeli an­nex­a­tion threat unites world in con­dem­na­tion By Yossi Mekel­berg

US dilemma as Ne­tanyahu seeks White House ap­proval By Osama Al-Sharif

Su­danese pro­test­ers re­turned to the streets on Tues­day to pres­sure tran­si­tional au­thor­i­ties, de­mand­ing jus­tice for those killed in the up­ris­ing last year that led to the mil­i­tary’s re­moval of dic­ta­tor Omar Bashir. Po­lice used tear gas to dis­perse pro­test­ers in Khar­toum.

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Un­ques­tion­ing White House sup­port may be driv­ing the Is­raeli PM’s ex­pan­sion­ary am­bi­tion of a West Bank land grab

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