Netanyahu May Push out July 1 Target Date for Sovereignty

June 30, 2020

by: Kate Norman

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Ofra, a Jewish community in Samaria

Tuesday, 30 June 2020 | Tomorrow is the big day—the date Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was striving to put Israeli sovereignty in the biblical heartland to a vote before the Knesset (Parliament).

But beginning the process tomorrow is highly unlikely amid several complications: international condemnation and threats of punitive measures, waiting on the American thumbs-up to proceed and whether to apply sovereignty over all the land allotted under President Trump’s peace plan or to start small and add more over time.

Under the American peace proposal, Netanyahu’s sovereignty plans would see Israel take official control of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley, amounting to up to 30% of the contested region. However, the international backlash reportedly has Israeli and US officials discussing whether to start on a smaller scale—though that doesn’t seem to be curbing the frantic condemnation coming from European and Arab states. 

The issue of applying sovereignty became a sticking point during the unity government negotiations earlier this year until Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz waived his veto right, allowing for Netanyahu to put the matter to a Knesset vote as early as July 1.

The prime minister seemed confident—despite his alternate’s reservations for fear of the international repercussions the move would bring. But tomorrow the countdown runs out, and it looks highly unlikely that anything concrete will happen with so many things up in the air.

The US—whose nod of approval will give Israel the green light to move forward—has yet to officially weigh in after several meetings between top brass in Washington DC and Jerusalem.

Several United Nations officials have condemned the Jewish state for its plans—one even taking part in an anti-annexation rally in Jericho last week. The most recent in the line-up is UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet, who called Israel’s sovereignty plans “illegal” and called on Jerusalem to step back.

Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs fired back at Bachelet, noting that this is not the first time the UN official “has politicized her office against Israel in a one-sided manner.”

“It is not surprising that she decided today to join the Palestinian campaign against the American peace plan and to publish declarations before any decision has been made,” the ministry said in a statement.

The UN joins others in scolding the Jewish state, including the EU, individual European nations and Arab states. The backlash ranges from verbal hand-slaps to threats of economic sanctions and other punitive measures. Last week Belgium called for economic sanctions if Israel moved forward and tried to rally its European brethren to follow suit.

Israel is also waiting to see whether the International Criminal Court will be given jurisdiction to investigate alleged Israeli human rights violations against the Palestinians, which would begin an entirely different narrative battle to wage in the public arena. 

Tomorrow’s deadline of July 1 for beginning the process will likely come and go with no action—but that doesn’t mean Netanyahu will give up.

As Gantz told a visiting US envoy, “July 1 is not a sacred date.”

The alternate prime minister is pushing to focus on other issues before climbing the sovereignty mountain.

“Dealing with the coronavirus and its socioeconomic and health consequences is the more pressing issue that needs to be attended to right now.”

Nonetheless, as per the coalition deal, Netanyahu has the power to push forward without Gantz’s approval—as long as he gets the Knesset vote of approval.

Posted on June 30, 2020

Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 30, 2020)

Photo Credit: Sarah Yoder/bridgesforpeace.com