by: Ilse Strauss
Wednesday, 3 June 2020 | The date Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu set to extend Israeli authority over the Jordan Valley and Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria may not be feasible. A high-ranking source told the Times of Israel yesterday it is “highly unlikely” that US President Donald Trump’s administration will give their nod of approval for the move to go ahead on July 1.
The move is in line with US President Donald Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan unveiled in January and will see Jerusalem apply sovereignty to some 30% of Judea and Samaria, Israel’s biblical heartland or what the world calls the West Bank. The remainder is set aside for a future Palestinian state—provided the Palestinians meet a set of conditions.
According to the source, the holdup lies with the joint US–Israel mapping committee, tasked with demarcating the precise swatches of land over which Jerusalem will apply sovereignty, the Times of Israel said. The US has set the complete mapping as a precondition before giving its nod of approval for the application of Israeli sovereignty to move forward.
However, Judea and Samaria is arguably one of the most contested plots of land on earth and the task of delineating borders is thus fraught with complexities and requires painstaking on-the-ground work—made all the more difficult by international scrutiny, censure from neighbors and threats of violence from the Palestinians.
Moreover, travel restrictions and social distancing rules implemented to curb the spread of COVID-19 have pushed back the mapping process. While the mapping committee has not stopped working during the pandemic, one of its key US members has been unable to visit Israel since the outbreak, the Times of Israel reports. It also remains unclear exactly when the member will be able to travel to the region.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who last week assured party lawmakers that the July 1 deadline stands firm, seems to have taken note of the US’s urgings to slow the process. In a meeting with mayors of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria yesterday, the prime minister said the US “may have lessened its enthusiasm about seeing sovereignty carried out,” the Times of Israel quotes an official as saying.
Despite the question mark hanging over the exact execution date, Israel’s defense establishment is bracing for a renewed outbreak of Palestinian violence. The Palestinians have rejected the Trump peace plan and Israel’s extension of sovereignty out of hand, and Hamas leaders and Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas have threatened to answer such a move with violent resistance.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday instructed Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi to make the necessary preparations. Although the IDF has already been on high alert, Gantz provided Kohavi with more specific information on the government’s intentions and briefed him on a number of possible scenarios.
Moreover, IDF and Shin Bet (Israeli internal security organization) heads and top commanders will sit down together today to mull over security responses to a number of possible scenarios, including a renewed Palestinian uprising and Jorden severing diplomatic with Israel, the Times of Israel said.
Posted on June 3, 2020
Source: (Bridges for Peace, June 3, 2020)
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