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June 15, 2020 4:12 pm

Report: Netanyahu Says Annexation to Be Pursued in Stages, Still Unclear Where Gantz Stands on Issue

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

A general view picture shows houses in the Israeli settlement of Maale Adumim, in the West Bank, Feb. 15, 2017. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad / File.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday that he wanted to annex half of Area C in the West Bank and annexation would likely happen in stages.

Israeli daily Yediot Ahronot reported that, speaking at a Likud faction meeting, Netanyahu said that the annexation map was “still being worked on” and would be published “when its finished.”

He added that, at the moment, he was aiming to annex half of Area C.

Under the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, Israel was given full security and administrative control over Area C, where there is a relatively small Palestinian population. Under most peace proposals made in recent decades, large parts of it would be annexed by Israel.

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Israel’s Channel 13 reported that at a meeting with representatives of the “Bitachonistim” (“Security”) movement, Netanyahu said that annexation would not occur all at once, but rather be pursued in stages.

Netanyahu also told members of his right-wing Likud party that he did not currently know where his coalition partners in the centrist Blue and White party stood on annexation, but that the Trump administration did not want to see annexation proceed without a consensus in the current government.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, both of Blue and White, have sent mixed signals on the annexation issue.

Yediot reported that even the two men’s closest associates did not know their positions on the matter.

A senior coalition source said, “They still haven’t formulated their stance.”

According to Israeli news site Walla, Netanyahu also said that he would not bring the Trump peace plan to a full Knesset vote.

Instead of doing so, Netanyahu stated, he would “conduct negotiations on the basis” of the plan.

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