Report: Netanyahu Determined to Start Annexation Process Before Election

YERUSHALAYIM -
President Donald Trump shakes hands with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu during a joint news conference to announce a new Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House, Tuesday. (REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

After Sunday’s Cabinet meeting was canceled – apparently over disagreements between Israel and the United States over the schedule of annexation of areas of Yehudah and Shomron – a report on Channel 13 said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu planned to bring the entire “deal of the century” peace plan to the Cabinet for approval. The hope is that if the plan is adopted, the U.S. will give its blessing to annexation before the March 2 election.

Netanyahu had planned to bring the annexation part of the plan to a vote separately from the rest of the plan, which gives Israeli consent to the establishment of a Palestinian state, if the conditions for establishment of that state are fulfilled – including the Palestinians’ recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and the end of payments by the Palestinian Authority to terrorists and their families. While there is widespread support among the right, and in Yisrael Beytenu, for the annexation part of the plan, the rest of the plan is likely to be less popular.

Netanyahu believes that if the Cabinet approves the plan, Washington will relent and allow at least one stage of the annexation to go through. After the momentum achieved at the presentation of the plan last week, Netanyahu is determined to at least begin the annexation process, although it’s highly unlikely that it will be completed before the election.

The Yesha Council on Sunday launched an emergency campaign for imposition of sovereignty on areas of Yehudah and Shomron this week, saying that if it is not accomplished now, it will never happen.

Naftali Bennett’s Yemina party on Thursday reiterated the need for a quick imposition of Israeli sovereignty on Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron – immediately, before the March elections. “Missing this opportunity would be a terrible blow to Jewish settlement, to the half a million Jews in Yehudah, Shomron and the Jordan Valley. Sovereignty is at our fingertips, we dare not miss the opportunity,” the party said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Channel 12 said that the head of the CIA, Gina Haspel, has promised Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas that her organization would work to prevent any annexation before the election. Haspel urged Abbas not to make any “hasty decisions” regarding the PA’s security cooperation with Israel and the U.S.

At a meeting of the Arab League Saturday, Abbas said that the PA “ will not accept this framework under any circumstances, and I say directly that if Israel and the U.S. continue to violate the agreements with us, we will break off relations altogether, including security cooperation.”

Over the past two years, the U.S. and the PA have communicated chiefly via the CIA. The PA has refused to meet with American diplomatic staff in the region, as the Authority is boycotting the U.S. administration.