Despite Mounting Opposition, Netanyahu Vows July 1 Annexation of Jewish West Bank Settlements

Although Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has promised to annexat of portions of the West Bank starting July 1, a settler official told the Times of Israel the effort may be delayed because the Trump administration was toughening its stance on the plans. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… In fact, the Times of Israel reports, the Trump administration is not likely to approve Israel’s move to unilaterally annex portions of the West Bank because mapping of the area is not complete. A mapping committee is charged with defining the precise borders of the area Israel will annex, a time-consuming process that may not be complete for months. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…

Not all settlers are happy with the plan, however. David Elhayani, head of the Jordan Valley Regional Council, is opposed to the Trump peace plan, comparing it to being force fed cake. Elhayani says that he is concerned for the safety of settlers and Israelis. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Reported by Israel National News. Read more… Meanwhile, Nitzan Horowitz, leader of the Meretz party, warned almost two weeks ago that Trump’s peace plan will turn Israel into an apartheid state. Speaking to reports, Horowitz said, “This is an apartheid map. It reminds me of South Africa.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Sergey Lavrov and Sameh Shoukry, Russia’s and Egypt’s foreign ministers respectively, also warned Israel against annexing parts of the West Bank. In an official statement, Lavrov’s office stated, “The ministers noted annexing sections of Palestinian land on the West Bank of the Jordan River will threaten the prospects for the two-state solution to the Palestinian-Israeli problem and could provoke a new and dangerous round of violence in the region.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… And on June 4, U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi warned members of the Jewish Democratic Council of America that “Unilateral annexation puts the future at risk and undermines US national security interests and decades of bipartisan policy.” Leading Democrats, including presidential contender Joe Biden, have condemned Netanyahu’s annexation plans. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…Prominent British Jews, including Luciana Berger and writer Howard Jacobson, are likewise advising Israel against annexation. Thirty-seven British Jews signed a letter to Israel’s U.K. Ambassador, Mark Regev, saying, “Israel’s international standing would also suffer and it is incompatible with the notion of Israel as both a Jewish and democratic state.” The letter was titled, “We Cannot Justify Israel’s West Bank Annexation.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Germany, however, “will not go off the deep end,” if Israel proceeds with annexation says one German diplomatic official in Israel. The official also said that Germany did not favor sanctions, but instead exploring ways the Israelis and Palestinians can return to talks. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The Palestinian Authority has weighed in, in response to an inquiry from the International Criminal Court (ICC). Annexation will annul the Oslo Accords, the PA told the ICC. PA Foreign Minister Riyad al-Malki issued the statement in response to an inquiry from ICC after PA President Mahmoud Abbas declared in a speech last month that all agreements with Israel were null and void and that the PA was no longer bound by them. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Thousands protested in Tel Aviv on June 6 against Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank. The protest was organized primarily by the left-wing Meretz party and Hadash—the communist faction of the Arab Joint List. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… A recent survey shows that more Israelis oppose annexation than support it. The poll showed that 41.7 percent of Israelis do not support annexation, while only 32.2 percent support it. About 48 percent believe annexation will hurt chances of achieving peace with the Palestinians, compared to just 13.8 percent who believe it will help peace prospects. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

As of June 8, Netanyahu was telling settler leaders that he still intended to annex all West Bank settlements on July 1, but also conceded that other land allocated to Israel under the Trump peace plan would take longer. If Netanyahu holds true to the promise, Israel will annex some 132 settlements, which about 450,000 Israelis call home, and amounting to about 3 percent of the West Bank. The remaining 30% of the West Bank land allocated to Israel, mostly in the Jordan Valley, would be annexed later. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… The Trump administration is unlikely to support annexation, however, unless the full Israeli unity government gives its support to the move. According to a report by Israel’s Channel 12, that was the outcome of a recent meeting between Gantz, Netanyahu, Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and Knesset speaker Yariv Levin and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Freidman. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Deputy Prime Minister Benny Gantz has reportedly told settlers. “What’s being offered to you, take. As for the rest, you can deal with it later.” He reportedly told settlers to accept whatever the U.S. was willing to accept Israel annexing and not to overdo it. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… By June 10, the narrative had changed, with reports Netanyahu would announce annexation of three West Bank blocs but not the Jordan Valley or other settlement areas. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

A group of right-wing activists have their eye on the whole of the West Bank, not just those portions allocated to Israel under Trump’s peace plan. Organizers of the “It’s all ours” campaign plan on three stages leading up to July 1, the date Netanyahu promised to begin annexing parts of the West Bank. The first stage began with members posting 5,500 fliers along roads in the West Bank warning that, “the danger of the division of the land that is on the horizon.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

The World Council of Churches wants Europe to sanction Israel is if annexes West Bank lands. The council was established in 1948 and has 350 member churches with about 500,000 followers among them. In a letter to EU foreign ministers, the Council said that if Israel annexes the land the E.U. should adopt sanctions “at least commensurate with those adopted by the EU in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea.” Reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Read more…

More than 400 Jewish and Israel studies academics have denounced Israeli plans to annex part of the West Bank. In a statement the group characterized the plan as “apartheid” and called it a “crime against humanity” under international law. “Representing a spectrum of viewpoints, we write in opposition to the continuation of the occupation and the stated intention of the current elected government in Israel to annex parts of the West Bank, thereby formally (de jure) creating apartheid conditions in Israel and Palestine,” a statement from the group said. The group continued, saying “Under these conditions, annexation of Palestinian territories will cement into place an anti-democratic system of separate and unequal law and systemic discrimination against the Palestinian population.” Reported by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency (JTA). Read more… Even the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) is distancing itself from the plan, telling lawmakers they are free to criticize Israel’s annexation plan so long as they stop there. It is a significant departure from AIPAC policy, which generally discourages all criticism of Israel. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Yousef Al-Otaiba, the United Arab Emirates ambassador to the United States, has warned that Israel’s unilateral annexation plans will damage the budding relationship between Israel and the Arab world. Acknowledging that relations between Israel and the Arab world have grown closer over the years, Al-Otaiba warned that “A unilateral and deliberate act, annexation is the illegal seizure of Palestinian land. It defies the Arab – and indeed the international – consensus on the Palestinian right to self-determination. It will ignite violence and rouse extremists. It will send shockwaves around the region, especially in Jordan, whose stability — often taken for granted — benefits the entire region, particularly Israel.” Al-Otaiba was one of the three Arab ambassadors to attend the White House ceremony during which U.S. President Donald Trump unveiled his peace plan for the Middle East. Al-Otaiba made his statements in an op-ed piece published in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, itself a first. Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more… Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has also criticized the plan, saying “The claim that we need the Jordan Valley now from a security standpoint is nonsense with no truth to it. I’m saying that as a prime minister of Israel. No one will say that I’m not a patriot.” Reported by The Times of Israel. Read more…

Meanwhile, policy makers and diplomats in Washington, D.C. are amping up their warnings against Israel’s annexation plan. Last week, Jordan’s Ambassador to the U.S. joined the chorus, warning that Jordan would re-evaluate its peace agreement with Israel if annexation proceeded. Reported by The Times of Israel.Read more…