Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu appeared on the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia on Monday, his first interview ever with the network.
Netanyahu, in the course of hailing the historic deal and its mutual benefits, addressed the issue of annexation in Yehuda and Shomron, which has widely been seen as the price for normalization with the UAE.
Netanyahu said the decision to “suspend” annexation plans was made at the behest of the U.S. administration. “There was an American demand, at the present time, to suspend annexation of the territories in the West Bank, and we agreed. The Americans told us – we want to expand the peace framework and that is the first priority at the present time.”
In recent days, Netanyahu and other Likud officials have insisted that there was no trade-off, and that annexation will eventually come.
Speaking to Army Radio, he also denied that he was forced to reject annexation in exchange for normalization. “It’s not as if someone gave me a choice and told me to pick either sovereignty or normalization,” he said. “Just as nobody believed I would bring a peace agreement — I will also bring the sovereignty.”
Finance Minister Yisrael Katz said that annexation was off the table even before the deal: “Portraying the deal as connected to it is maybe more convenient for the Arab states,” he told Kan.