Opposition to the proposed annexations in Yehudah and Shomron was seen on the streets Wednesday, as Peace Now held demonstrations at several locations along the central Ayalon Highway.
Demonstrators hung signs on bridges over the highway declaring that “There will be a war on annexation!”
Peace Now executive director Shaked Morag was quoted by The Times of Israel saying the plan is “a disaster for Israel. A disconnected, irresponsible step on the diplomatic, defense and moral levels that will blow up in our face.”
More demonstrations are planned.
Opposition to the proposed annexations have been coming from the Israeli right, as well. On Tuesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu met with Yesha leaders, some of whom have been criticizing the plan, and asking their support. The meeting ended with an agreement to have another meeting.
On Wednesday, their rhetoric became more heated. David Elhayani, head of Yesha, said: “Trump and Kushner had shown through the proposal that they are not friends of the State of Israel and do not consider the security and settlement interests of the State of Israel,” according to Haaretz.
Shomron Regional Council chairman Yossi Dagan warned that the proposed map would turn the Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron “into isolated outposts.”
“This is a fancy word for the abandonment of tens of thousands of Israeli citizens, in communities like Elon Moreh, Itamar, Har Bracha, Mevo Dotan, Tekoa, Nokdim, Mount Chevron and Chevron…”
He continued: “There is an attempt here to carry out a hijacking based on the idea of sovereignty, wrapped in a lot of national and patriotic text, to bring in through the back door a terrorist state in the heart of the country and the abandonment of settlements that include tens of thousands of settlers, wrapping it in the cellophane of sovereignty. This is something that will not happen nor will the national camp allow it. If it does, the national camp might fall apart over something like that,” added Dagan.
Netanyahu later rejected Alhiani’s comment on Trump’s friendship: “President Trump is a great friend of the State of Israel. He has undertaken historical moves in support of the State of Israel, including: recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, [moving] the US embassy to Jerusalem, and recognition of Jewish settlement in Judea and Samaria.
“President Trump’s vision of peace includes recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, Israel’s control of territory west of the Jordan, a unified Jerusalem, disarmament of Hamas, preventing [Palestinian Arab] refugees from entering Israel, and more,” said Netanyahu.
However, it was not clear how broad opposition to the plan is among the Yehuda and Shomron leadership.
Efrat Mayor Oded Revivi told Kan that Dagan and Elhayani don’t represent the majority, and branded the plan’s opponents “a handful of screamers.”
Right-wing Likud minister Zeev Elkin echoed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s message to Yesha, saying that the Trump plan is “an historic opportunity,” that Israel cannot afford to miss.
Word of the right-wing dissent has evidently reached Washington, and Kan news quoted senior U.S. officials accusing Yesha leaders of “being ungrateful” for the administration’s efforts on behalf of Israel.
Meanwhile, there were more signs that the July 1 deadline for a start of the annexation process declared by the coalition agreement was unrealistic.
The Times quoted an administration saying that U.S. approval by that time is “highly unlikely.” The U.S.-Israel mapping team needs some weeks to complete its work, and then a visit by the plan’s chief architect Jared Kushner has to happen before any action.
Updated Wednesday, June 3, 2020 at 3:39 pm Netanyahu comment