Gantz: We Won’t Wait for the Palestinians Forever

YERUSHALAYIM -
israel palestinians
Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu (seated) and Alternate Prime Minister and Minister of Defense Benny Gantz at a Cabinet meeting earlier this month. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz indicated on Tuesday that he could eventually support unilateral annexation in Yehuda and Shomron.

“We won’t continue to wait for the Palestinians. If they say ‘no’ forever to everything then we’ll be forced to move forward without them,” he said, without specifying what he meant by “forever.”

Still, it betokens a much different timeline from that of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu‏‏, who has been advocating implementation of an annexation plan as early as July 1.

The Trump administration peace plan gives Israel the option of extending sovereignty over 30 percent of Yehuda and Shomron now, which is what Netanyahu‏‏ has been advocating. The Palestinians are allotted four years to come to the negotiating table, and if they don’t, Israel will have a free hand in extending sovereignty in the remaining 70 percent.

“We won’t take Palestinians into our territory, we won’t harm human rights or the right of movement, we’ll work in coordination with regional countries and we’re in contact with them, we won’t endanger the peace agreements,” Gantz said in a briefing to reporters, his oft-stated position.

Meanwhile, Army Radio quoted a U.N. official saying that Blue and White’s No.2, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, is working behind the scenes to prevent unilateral annexation.

The U.N. source added that there is “not a single logical reason for Israel to take a unilateral step.”

In response, Ashkenazi’s office did not directly deny the report, saying only that he is fully committed to the Trump peace plan, but that annexation must be fully coordinated with the United States and countries in the region.