Report: Netanyahu Prefers Maale Adumim Annexation, Leaves Out Jordan Valley

YERUSHALAYIM -
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A view of Maale Adumim, near Yerushalayim. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The question for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is not whether to annex areas of Yehudah and Shomron in the wake of President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” peace plan – but what areas to annex, a report on Channel 20 said. Journalist Shimon Riklin, who accompanied Netanyahu on his trip to Washington to meet Trump, said that the two would make decisions on the matter together, and make an announcement on their decision – after which Netanyahu will get Cabinet approval for it.

“There is cautious optimism” among Israeli officials, the report said. “What will matter is the support of the president, the expected international reaction, and the status of Arabs in annexed areas – who will become Israeli residents. The possibilities include annexing the Jordan Valley, Israeli towns in Yehudah and Shomron, and/or Maale Adumim.”

Army Radio reported that among those choices, Netanyahu’s main preference would be annexation of Maale Adumim, with the Jordan Valley a far less likely choice. Netanyahu realizes, the report said, that he must come home with a solid diplomatic achievement, but not one that will set off widespread unrest among Arabs, which annexation of the Jordan Valley would cause. Annexation of Maale Adumim would be far less controversial – and the city’s mayor, Benny Kasriel, is a significant force in the Likud Central Committee, making the move a positive one for Netanyahu all around, the report said.

Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel needed to move forward with annexation in a maximal way. “A rightwing government will be tested on its willingness to annex areas, and this must be done at next Sunday’s Cabinet meeting for all areas that encompass Jewish settlement,” Bennett said. “Actions speak louder than words. If annexation takes place, we will support the peace plan, and if not we won’t. In any event, we will not allow establishment of a Palestinian state, nor will we allow giving up one centimeter of land,” he added.