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Netanyahu Abandons Decision on Annexation Delay

Netanyahu Abandons Decision on Annexation Delay

Monday, 6 April, 2020 - 11:30
FILE PHOTO: A combination picture shows Benny Gantz, leader of Blue and White party, in Tel Aviv, Israel, November 23, 2019 and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Kiryat Malachi, Israel March 1, 2020. REUTERS/Corinna Kern, Amir Cohen/File Photo
Tel Aviv - Nazir Magally

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz have announced progress in talks to form the unity government and an agreement on most controversial issues.

However, disagreements remain on two main contentious issues, the annexation of Palestinian lands in the Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea regions, and the appointment of judges.

After approving on Saturday to postpone the annexation for four to six months and impose Israeli law on settlements in the occupied West Bank, Netanyahu abandoned his decision on Sunday and requested the annexation be carried out immediately.

According to a Blue and White official, Gantz doesn’t in principle reject Netanyahu’s demands, but he believes in wise and calculated political decisions to boost Israel's status in the Middle East and the world before any move on annexation.

He prefers to first try to resume peace talks with the Palestinians and launch negotiations with the Arab world to agree with them on any future annexation.

Gantz has also called for a government pledge to reject any unilateral Israeli annexation of Palestinian territories.

Despite that, leader of Blue and White party said he is prepared to compromise and accept a limited annexation as part of a deal on a unity government.

He stressed that he is only willing to agree on the annexation of settlements located west of the security barrier, which are approved by the Palestinians.

The PM, however, rejected Gantz’ conditions, stressing that the annexation should include all territories that are vital for Israel, mainly the Jordan Valley, the Red Sea regions and the settlements.

A Likud official was quoted as saying that Netanyahu “has worked on this annexation with US President Donald Trump for many years, not to give it up now.”

“This annexation has unprecedented US support and represents a great advantage for Israel, thus it cannot be relinquished.”

Gantz, elected parliamentary speaker of the Knesset late March, will serve in Netanyahu’s government as foreign minister with a reported rotation agreement. The power-sharing deal will see Gantz take over from Netanyahu in September 2021.

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