Netanyahu: Decision on Sovereignty to be Made Next Week

July 2, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Elon Moreh, a Jewish community in Samaria

Thursday, 2 July 2020 | Now that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s target date to begin applying sovereignty over portions of Judea and Samaria has come and gone, the future looks unclear as top Israeli and US brass are still meeting to discuss how to move forward. Netanyahu doesn’t appear to be losing steam, however, as one of his Likud party members announced yesterday that sovereignty “will certainly happen in July.”

Israel will only proceed after US President Donald Trump issues a decision, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis said in a radio interview Wednesday. 

“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to hold talks with the Americans, and will simultaneously hold a meeting with the head of the National Security Council and the top security officials as part of a whole host of discussions on the matter,” a statement from Netanyahu’s office said.

Trump was expected to issue a declaration last week but has yet to do so. Top US officials held multiple meetings last week at the White House to discuss the issue with the US ambassador to Israel. No official decisions came out of the meetings, and Trump sent his top envoy for the region, Avi Berkowitz, to Israel for more meetings this week, which have yet to yield a firm outcome.

The sticking point is reportedly how to proceed while drawing minimal backlash, especially after the criticism Israel’s plans have already received from the United Nations, the European Union and multiple European and Arab states.

Multiple European nations have grabbed a microphone to condemn the Jewish state’s move, and a few, such as the Netherlands and Belgium, have even vowed to impose financial sanctions and other punitive measures on Israel if it proceeds.

Netanyahu is seeking to apply Israeli law over Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria (the so-called West Bank) as well as the Jordan Valley, which would amount to 30% of the contested region, under Trump’s peace plan that was released earlier this year. The prime minister was given free rein to proceed, despite Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz’s reservations, beginning July 1—as long as it’s done in coordination with the US.

The US/Israeli discussions are covering exactly how to proceed: whether Israel should absorb the Jewish communities all at once or start small with select communities bordering Jerusalem and expand over time. The US has also reportedly urged Israel to entice the Palestinians back to the negotiating table by offering them portions of land on which to build without limitations.

The Palestinian Authority (PA) has rejected Trump’s peace plan in line with its policy of boycotting the Trump Administration—a policy that began after the president recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.

The PA leadership did counteroffer Israel’s sovereignty plans, offering to restart peace talks with Israel—as long as Trump’s peace proposal is left off the table.

Their offer, which was laid out in a letter to the Quartet on the Middle East (US, Russia, the UN and the EU), would include “minor territorial exchanges” based on pre-Six Day  War borders and an independent state “with a limited amount of weapons and…a strong police force.”

As world powers thousands of miles away from the area in question continue to weigh in and US and Israeli officials continue to meet to hash out the details, Netanyahu doesn’t appear to be giving up anytime soon.

Posted on July 2, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 2, 2020)

Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com