Netanyahu ‘confident’ US will allow West Bank annexation soon

Israeli PM ‘confident’ US will soon give approval to pursue de facto annexation of parts of occupied West Bank.

FILE PHOTO: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks as he chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem
Netanyahu described Trump's Middle East deal as a promise to recognise Israel's authority over settlements in the occupied West Bank [Oded Balilty/Pool via Reuters]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said he was confident the United States would give Israel the approval within two months to move ahead with de facto annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.

Palestinians have expressed outrage at Israel’s plans to cement its hold further on land it seized in the 1967 war, territory they are seeking for a future state.

Netanyahu, in announcing a deal with his rival Benny Gantz last week to form a unity government, set July 1 for the start of cabinet discussions on extending Israeli sovereignty to Israeli settlements, illegal under international law, in the occupied West Bank and annexing outright the Jordan Valley.

Such a move would need to be agreed with Washington, according to the Netanyahu-Gantz agreement.

In a video address on Sunday to a pro-Israeli Christian group in Europe, Netanyahu described the Middle East plan announced by President Donald Trump in January as a promise to recognise Israel’s authority over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.

“A couple of months from now I am confident that that pledge will be honoured,” Netanyahu told the European Commission for Israel.

Palestinian officials offered no immediate comment on Netanyahu’s remarks.

Palestinians have flatly rejected the Trump proposal, partly because it awards Israel most of what it has sought during decades of conflict, including nearly all the occupied land on which it has built settlements.

The Palestinians have already threatened to cancel existing peace agreements if Netanyahu moves forward with his plan, while the European Union foreign policy chief said annexation would be a violation of international law and force the bloc to “act accordingly”. The UN’s Middle East envoy said such a step would “ignite” the region.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it was up to Israel whether to annex parts of the West Bank and said Washington would offer its views privately to its new government.

The Palestinians and much of the international community regard Israel’s settlements in the occupied West Bank as illegal under the Geneva Conventions that bar settling on land captured in war.

Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.

Source: News Agencies