Annexation plans on hold as Americans 'not listening', Netanyahu confidant says

Sources close to Yariv Levin told Army Radio that he had said that the plans were now on the back-burner


Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plans to annex sections of the West Bank have been postponed, Knesset Speaker and Netanyahu confidant Yariv is reported to have said.

Mr Levin is reported to have remarked that the plans had been delayed because Mr Netanyahu was unwilling to move forward without a green light from Washington, which was not forthcoming, reported Israel’s Army Radio on Tuesday.

Mr Levin, who also sits on the joint US-Israel mapping committee that had been tasked with outlining the contours of territory that would be annexed to Israel under President Donald Trump’s 'peace plan’, is understood to have said the White House was “not listening” as its attention was not on the Middle East.

Army Radio reported that Mr Levin had said that the US administration was concerned with Mr Trump’s re-election plans and managing the deepening coronavirus crisis, and that Israel had never considered moving forward without American support viable.

President Donald Trump’s administration had previously said any decisions on whether to extend Israeli sovereignty to sections of the West Bank would be an internal Israeli decision, but it has rowed back on initial indications that it would support unilateral annexations.

Washington had said that completion of the work of the mapping committee, on which Mr Levin sits, would be a precondition for accepting annexations, although the work of the committee has slowed during the pandemic and Mr Netanyahu has told settler leaders and Mr Gantz that the maps had not been finalised.

Mr Netanyahu had initially promised that the process of annexing territory in the West Bank would begin on July 1, as agreed in a coalition agreement signed between his Likud and Defence Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz’ Blue and White.

It is likely that Mr Netanyahu’s gradual scale-back, from his initial suggestion declaring that Israel would annex all Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, has been pushed by Israel’s intensifying coronavirus pandemic and the possibility that Mr Trump will lose his re-election bid in November.

Settler mayors in West Bank reacted with irritation to the report on Army Radio.

The Yesha Council, an umbrella organisation of municipal councils of Jewish settlements in the West Bank called for “promises made” to be fulfilled and stated: “There is no need to wait for anyone. This move depends solely on us.”   

Yossi Dagan, the chairman of the Samaria Regional Council, who has previously voiced his opposition to the Trump plan due to the fact that it envisages the eventual creation of a Palestinian state said: “Never since the establishment of the state has a nationalist government bowed and surrendered like this to the Americans.”    

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