Benjamin Netanyahu’s government is trying to iron out differences with the US in time to annex West Bank territory before Israel’s March 2 election, Bloomberg reported, quoting a senior Israeli official as saying.
The Trump administration has a different idea on how and when that move should happen, and has persuaded Israel to put a brake on Netanyahu’s plan to annex next week, the official said on condition of anonymity to discuss the sensitive matter.
When President Donald Trump unveiled his Middle East peace plan on Tuesday, so-called “Deal of the Century”, he said the US would immediately recognize an extension of Israeli sovereignty over all Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley.
Netanyahu, who is lagging in the polls after failing twice to form a government last year, interpreted that as a green light to annex those territories. He then announced he’d ask his cabinet to vote on the issue — which has widespread support in the Zionist entity– as early as Sunday.
It’s not clear why Netanyahu made that deduction, given that Trump said a joint US-Israeli committee would have to review any annexation plan, according to Bloomberg.
But Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and architect of the ‘peace’ blueprint, scuttled Israeli timetable, saying in an interview with analyst Ian Bremmer on Wednesday that the administration hoped the Israeli government wouldn’t take action until after the vote and a government is formed.
The Israeli prime minister wants the Trump plan to give him an edge ahead of that election.
The Zionist entity is still working to take over territory before the vote, the official said. The concept of annexing land in the West Bank, where more than 400,000 settlers live among 2.6 million Palestinians, had been unthinkable for decades, because of its questionable legality and the international outcry it would provoke. Support from the Trump administration has now freed Israel to act.
The Israeli government is trying to persuade the US to allow a piecemeal approach, whereby Israel would present the Trump team smaller areas to be annexed, according to the official. That would allow it to start taking action faster, because there would be fewer details for the joint committee to review.
The unveiling of Trump’s peace plan hasn’t given Netanyahu, who’s facing trial in three corruption cases, the boost he needs to stay in office, the latest polls show.
Facing a third election in less than a year, he still won’t be able to muster enough support to form a coalition government, according to three surveys released on Wednesday by Israeli television stations.