- Extension of sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the contentious region will be among the agendas.
- The Palestinian leadership has spoken out against the move.
- The Trump administration is likely to support the plan.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed confidence that the US will give Israel the green light to go ahead with its West Bank annexation plans. Netanyahu’s coalition government, which includes his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, will begin discussions on the matter on July 1.
Extension of sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the contentious region will be among the agendas. As Netanyahu said:
“Three months ago, the Trump peace plan recognized Israel’s rights in all of Judea and Samaria [the West Bank]. And President Trump pledged to recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the Jewish communities there and in the Jordan Valley. A couple of months from now, I’m confident that that pledge will be honored. That we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism. A century after San Remo, the promise of Zionism is being realized.”
Palestinians are alarmed by Israel’s plans to take over land that it seized during the 1967 Middle East war. They have been pushing for the zone to become a sovereign state. The move would, however, need Washington’s blessing. Israeli legislators across the board are united in the pursuit to annex the region. This is hardly surprising, as expansion into Palestinian territory is among the main foundations of the Israeli regime.
The Palestinian leadership has reacted to the latest annexation news with fiery rhetoric. Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas has threatened to nullify pacts with the Israeli and US governments if the plans go ahead. He has said that Palestinians will not stay “handcuffed” and watch their land being taken away from them.
That said, however, his administration is heavily dependent on donations from the international community, as well as the Israeli government. This makes it hard to put up a formidable challenge. The Palestinian leadership has been engaged in too many “peace negotiations,” some say. The meetings have led to a cessation of power each time that they occur and left it in a vulnerable position.
Despite the tough talk, Abbas’ regime is already “handcuffed.” The harsh reality is that Palestinians live in an open-air prison. The president himself is obligated to ask for permission from his Israeli overlords each time he wants to leave Ramallah. The Palestinian citizenry has further been weakened by the coronavirus pandemic, which has put them under lockdown. They live in fear of infection and are currently unable to put up a fierce resistance against an Israeli takeover.
A few days ago, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said that the annexation decision is Israel’s to make. He also highlighted that Washington would only express its views on the matter privately with the new Israeli coalition government. “As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions. We will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in private,” he said.