Questions mount over Israel action on ‘annexation’ date
Jerusalem: Israelis were awaiting word Wednesday from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on his prospective plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, a move that risks inflaming regional tensions.
His coalition has set July 1 as the date from which it can begin implementing US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, which paves the way for annexations of Jewish West Bank settlements. But hours before Netanyahu’s self-imposed kick-off date, signs pointed against a major policy announcement, with the prime minister and his allies indicating dramatic action was not imminent.
The Palestinians have rejected the Trump plan, but say they are willing to discuss alternatives with the Israelis.
“We are not going to sit at a negotiating table where the annexation or the Trump plan are proposed,” senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat told AFP on Tuesday.
“It is not a plan, but a project to legitimise the occupation” of Palestinian territories, he said.
After occupying the West Bank and other Palestinian territories in the 1967 Six-Day War, Israel annexed Arab east Jerusalem.
In 1981 it did the same with the Golan Heights on the Syrian border.
Many of Netanyahu’s right-wing supporters have voiced hope for similar action in parts of the West Bank, where 450,000 Israelis live alongside 2.8 million Palestinians in Jewish settlements considered illegal under international law. Some settlers however oppose provisions in the Trump plan that call for the creation of a Palestinian state bordering Israel.
Netanyahu’s centrist coalition partners have also praised the Trump plan but urged caution on implementation, stressing the importance of regional stability.
“We must act with great responsibility in order to safeguard the political and security interests of the state of Israel,” Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday. - AFP