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February 16, 2020 7:30 pm

Netanyahu Says Work on Annexation Map Has Begun: ‘We Are Turning Parts of the Homeland in Judea and Samaria Into Part of the State of Israel Forever’

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a statement to the media at the start of his Likud party faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem, September 23, 2019. Photo: REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo.

Israel’s government has established a team to map out areas of the West Bank that it will annex in accordance with President Donald Trump’s recently released peace plan, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday.

Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said, “In recent weeks, we brought enormous news for the State of Israel and the Land of Israel. My friend President Trump clearly stated that he would recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea, and all Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, as well as a broad area encompassing them.”

“We have formed an Israeli team to work with the American team on the work of mapping, which has already begun — it is underway,” Netanyahu announced.

The team, he said, includes Minister of Tourism and Aliyah and Integration Yariv Levin, National Security Council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat, and the Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Ronen Peretz, with assistance from the Israeli Ambassador to the US, Ron Dermer.

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“This team will work closely with settlement and, of course, security officials in order to complete the work quickly,” Netanyahu said.

“For their part, the Americans will work with us,” he added. “We will complete the work as quickly as possible.”

“We are turning parts of the homeland in Judea and Samaria into part of the State of Israel forever,” the prime minister declared.

The Trump peace plan, which has already been rejected by the Palestinians, provides for Israeli annexation of almost all current Jewish settlements in the West Bank, or Judea and Samaria as the area is referred to in Hebrew.

This includes annexation of Israeli enclaves deep in West Bank territory, which is fiercely opposed by the Palestinians. In previous negotiations, the Palestinians have been offered over 90% of the West Bank, but turned it down. Under Trump’s plan, they would receive 70% of the territory, with Israel annexing the rest.

While most observers, whether supportive or not, view the Trump plan as the most generous toward Israel ever offered, settler leaders have been disappointed that Netanyahu did not immediately annex the territories guaranteed under the plan.

While US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman intimated that Israel was free to annex the territory following the release of the plan, Netanyahu backed off the idea, reportedly under pressure from the White House.

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