בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת יוון קיריאקוס מיצוטקיס
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Pro-Netanyahu paper: PM mulling two-phase West Bank annexation

Israel Hayom says prime minister weighing limited initial annexation, in bid to quell international opposition, followed by renewed call for Palestinians to hold peace talks and then annexing remaining settlements

Reuters |
Published: 06.17.20 , 17:10
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is weighing a limited initial annexation in the West Bank, hoping to quell international opposition to his pledge of wide territorial moves, an Israeli newspaper seen as supportive of the veteran leader said Wednesday.
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  • Netanyahu has said a U.S. peace plan, which envisages Israel retaining its settlements in the West Bank, provides a "historic opportunity" to extend Israeli sovereignty to them and to the Jordan Valley area.
    בנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת יוון קיריאקוס מיצוטקיסבנימין נתניהו וראש ממשלת יוון קיריאקוס מיצוטקיס
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
    (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
    Israel captured the West Bank, along with East Jerusalem from Jordan and the Gaza Strip fro Egypt, in the1967 Six-Day War. Palestinians hope to establish a state in those areas and say the peace blueprint announced by U.S. President Donald Trump in January kills that prospect.
    Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu daily widely seen as reflecting his views, said Israel's longest-serving premier was now looking at the possibility of annexation in two phases.
    The West Bank settlement of Efrat The West Bank settlement of Efrat
    The West Bank settlement of Efrat
    It said Netanyahu, who has set July 1 for the start of a cabinet debate on the issue, was considering annexing only small settlements in phase one and, after renewing calls to Palestinians for peace talks, then annexing the remaining ones.
    Netanyahu's annexation pledges have raised stiff opposition from the Palestinians, Arab countries, and European nations, and Israeli officials say Washington has yet to agree to the move.
    Wasel Abu Youssef, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said potential phasing of annexation made no difference. "Netanyahu is trying to confuse the international position which rejects annexation and the world will not be fooled by such a proposition," he said.
    The newspaper said Netanyahu does not anticipate a strong punitive response from Europe for annexation, despite vocal opposition, nor does he see it as substantially damaging Israel's ties with the Arab world.
    הפגנה מחאה שמאל נגד סיפוח שטחים דמוקרטיה כיכר רבין תל אביבהפגנה מחאה שמאל נגד סיפוח שטחים דמוקרטיה כיכר רבין תל אביב
    Demonstrators at Rabin Square in Tel Aviv protesting against the U.S. peace plan
    (Photo: AFP)
    Nonetheless, by limiting annexation initially, he hopes to signal that Israel is attentive to international criticism, Israel Hayom said.
    It attributed its report to sources that have held discussions with Netanyahu in the last few days but did not identify them. Netanyahu's office declined to comment.
    Most countries view Israeli settlements as illegal. Israel rejects this notion on a historical, biblical, and security basis.
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