Annexationists Not Deterred by Washington Disavowal

YERUSHALAYIM -
Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud). (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Right-wing Israeli politicians say they are not deterred from seeking passaging of a bill to extend sovereignty over parts of Yehudah and Shomron, despite a Trump administration disavowal of coordinating on it with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.

On Monday, a statement by Netanyahu that he had been discussing the matter with officials in Washington was sharply rebuffed by a White House spokesman, who rejected such “reports” as “false,” though without naming Netanyahu. Subsequently, the Prime Minister’s Office walked back Netanyahu’s statement.

Yerushalayim Affairs Minister Zeev Elkin (Likud) went so far as to rate the annexation a higher priority than good relations with Washington:

“I think the application of sovereignty over Yehudah and Shomron is of supreme value, even more so than [Israeli] interests in relations with the United States,” Elkin declared on Tuesday, The Jerusalem Post reported.

Elkin pointedly reminded skeptics that then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin ignored the opposition of U.S. President Ronald Reagan when his administration effectively annexed the Golan Heights. No one today even remembers the furious reaction from Washington, which was to suspend its strategic cooperation agreement with Israel.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) similarly supported the move for annexation, noting that “the international community has never supported this step. It is hard to see a situation in which the international community would sanction it,” said Shaked, and that there has never been a more opportune time.

The bill had been scheduled to be voted on at the Ministerial Legislative Committee on Sunday, but Netanyahu persuaded the coalition leaders to delay it due to the security situation on the northern border.

“The prime minister asked me not to raise the Sovereignty Bill [at the committee on Sunday] because of the security incident in the north and because of the discussions with the Americans until further notice,” Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett said in an interview with KAN Public Radio.

“I agreed to hold off because of the security situation, but wanted to hear more about the situation with Washington. I maintain the right to raise it again next Sunday.”