Israel may release its game on the annexation in the west bank

Israël peut dévoiler son jeu sur l'annexion en Cisjordanie

JERUSALEM | Pounce or procrastinate? Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu may, as soon as Wednesday, giving the measure of its controversial annexation of parts of the palestinian territory of the west bank, which could make the move the “borders” of Israel for the first time in decades.

Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and then the plateau of the syrian Golan in 1981. The country he wrote, in 2020 a new page in its history by declaring “israeli” part of the occupied west bank?

According to the agreement between Mr. Netanyahu and his ex-rival electoral Benny Gantz, their union government must decide from the 1st of July on the implementation of the plan of the american president Donald Trump for the middle East, which more importantly provides for the annexation of settlements and the Jordan valley in the west bank.

But ministers israelis have delayed in taking the view that no announcement would be made this day.

Anyway, the question remains if Benjamin Netanyahu opts, if it goes ahead, to a maximalist approach in deciding on the annexation of the Jordan valley, and a hundred jewish settlements, or for the minimalist approach, aiming for a handful of colonies?

Call for demonstrations

The prime minister, a close ally of Mr. Trump, has a “window” shot of a few months. Because a victory in November for the presidential election of the United States of democrat Joe Biden, hostile to the annexation, could wipe out the american support to this project, condemned by Palestinians and criticised by the european Union, the UN and several arab countries.

Mr. Netanyahu discussed Tuesday in Jerusalem with Avi Berkowitz, special adviser to Donald Trump, and David Friedman, u.s. ambassador to Israel, the “sovereignty” of the israeli in the west bank, a term used by the Hebrew State, to discuss the annexation.

He said, “work these days,” on this subject, and that he would continue “in the coming days”, without other precision.

“This seems to me unlikely that this is happening today (Wednesday),” said on the army radio, the head of israel’s diplomacy Gabi Ashkenazi.

Tuesday, Tzahi Hanegbi, a minister without portfolio, but considered close to Netanyahu, said he was “confident that it will happen, but not tomorrow (Wednesday)”. The minister of Water and Zeev Elkin also considered incorrect the idea that “everything was going to unfold on the 1st of July”.

The Palestinians, who étrillent the plan, Trump, have called for protests on Wednesday in the valley of the Jordan, to Ramallah, the seat of the palestinian Authority in the west bank and in the Gaza strip, an enclave controlled by the islamist Hamas palestinians.

Any annexation, without peace talks in advance, would be a “declaration of war”, warned last week the Hamas which seeks to manifest its opposition to the project, but without seeking a new confrontation, according to analysts.

This islamist movement, and Israel battled three wars since 2008.

On Wednesday, Hamas has launched twenty rockets test from Gaza towards the Mediterranean sea, by way of warning, said to AFP, sources in the movement.

“Law of the jungle”

The Palestinians are trying to rally support against the project in israel to be shattered, according to them, the Oslo accords, providing for a solution of “two States,” an independent and viable palestinian State alongside Israel.

However, since the signing of these agreements in 1993, the population in jewish settlements in the west bank, deemed illegal by international law, has more than tripled to exceed today the 450 000 Israelis living in parallel of some 2.8 million Palestinians.

“International law is crystal clear about this: the annexation is illegal. If Israel goes ahead, it will testify of his contempt cynical of international law (…) in favour of the law of the jungle”, underlines Saleh Hijazi, specialist in the israeli-palestinian conflict at Amnesty International.

The Palestinians say they are ready to restart negotiations with the Israelis, but not on the foundation of the plan Trump, according to a text given to the Quartet (european Union, UN, Russia and the United States).

“We will not sit at a negotiation table, where are proposed the annexation plan or Trump, because he is not a peace plan, but a project to legitimize the occupation”, said to AFP the negotiator for the Palestinians Saeb Erakat.

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