by: Kate Norman
Wednesday, 1 July 2020 | Today was Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s deadline to begin the process of Israel applying sovereignty over portions of Judea and Samaria—the so-called West Bank. But the day seems to be passing by like any other day.
The prime minister hinted after a meeting with visiting US envoys yesterday that no action was likely to be taken today.
“I spoke about the question of sovereignty, which we are working on these days and we will continue to work on in the coming days,” Netanyahu told the press. He’s not giving up, but it’s not going to happen today.
Netanyahu has been pushing hard for the past few months to begin the process today, but as the deadline drew closer, several outside factors made the prospect look less and less likely.
Israel was waiting on a nod of approval from the US to proceed, but several days of meetings in the White House last week as well as a visit to Jerusalem by US envoys to discuss the matter ended without the American green light.
The two main sticking points for the US are the lack of agreement between Israel’s leaders on the issue and the backlash the move would cause, driving the Palestinians further away from the negotiating table.
But the Palestinian Authority (PA) never seemed ready to approach the table in the first place. They preemptively rejected Trump’s peace plan, which was released earlier this year, in line with their policy of boycotting the president’s administration since he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
The PA leadership did recently counteroffer Israel’s sovereignty plans, offering to restart peace talks with Israel while leaving Trump’s proposal off the table.
“We are not going to sit at a negotiating table where the annexation or the Trump plan are proposed,” PA official Saeb Erekat told AFP yesterday.
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.”
The Jewish state has yet to officially acknowledge the offer, and Israeli leaders are still focused on sovereignty under Trump’s plan, which would see Israel absorb the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria as well as the Jordan Valley—which would amount to 30% of the contested region. The other 70% would go toward a future demilitarized Palestinian state.
US officials are reportedly urging Israel to soften the sovereignty blow by offering land to the PA on which they can build unrestricted, Israeli Channel 12 news reported Tuesday, or re-designating portions of Area C land (under full Israeli control) as Area B (Israeli military control, Palestinian civil control).
Today will likely pass without any concrete action or decisions on beginning the sovereignty process—but that doesn’t mean Netanyahu and his bloc are giving up.
Posted on July 1, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, July 1, 2020)
Photo Credit: Alan Santos/PR/flickr.com
Photo License: flickr.com
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