Annexation, But Not So Fast

YERUSHALAYIM (AP) -
israel annexation
Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, of Likud. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90, File)

A senior Israeli minister said on Wednesday that a Cabinet vote to endorse annexation of parts of Yehuda and Shomron will not take place early next week, despite Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s pledge a day earlier to act quickly after the U.S. released a plan to end the conflict that was rejected by the Palestinians.

Netanyahu said he would ask the Cabinet to advance the extension of Israeli sovereignty over most Jewish settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley, a move that would likely spark international outrage and complicate the White House’s efforts to build support for the plan.

Tourism Minister Yariv Levin told Israel Radio that a Cabinet vote on annexing territories on Sunday was not technically feasible because of various preparations, including “bringing the proposal before the attorney general and letting him consider the matter.”

Levin, a senior member of Netanyahu’s Likud party, said the Palestinian state envisioned by the Trump plan is “roughly the same Palestinian Authority that exists today, with authority to manage civil affairs,” but lacking “substantive powers” like border control or a military.

Israeli nationalists have meanwhile called for the immediate annexation of the Yehuda and Shomron communities ahead of the country’s third parliamentary elections in under a year, scheduled for March 2.

They have eagerly embraced the part of President Donald Trump’s peace plan that would allow Israel to annex territory but have rejected its call for a Palestinian state.

Israeli Defense Minister Naftali Bennett tweeted Wednesday that “that which is postponed to after the elections will never happen.”

“If we postpone or reduce the extension of sovereignty, then the opportunity of the century will turn into the loss of the century,” said Bennett.