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June 30, 2020 7:08 am

Israeli Minister Signals Major West Bank Annexation Move Not Imminent

avatar by Reuters and Algemeiner Staff

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.

An Israeli minister played down on Tuesday the likelihood of major moves to annex settlements in the West Bank on July 1, the planned starting point for cabinet debate on the issue.

Ze’ev Elkin, a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party, said Israel still did not have the green light it seeks from Washington to begin extending its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.

Palestinian leaders, the United Nations, European powers and Arab countries have all denounced any potential annexation of West Bank land by Israel.

“Whoever painted a picture of everything happening in one day on July 1, did so at their own risk,” Elkin, minister of higher education, told Army Radio when asked what would happen on Wednesday. “From tomorrow, the clock will start ticking.”

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No cabinet session for Wednesday has been announced.

US officials are in Israel as part of the White House’s efforts to win consensus within its government for annexation as envisioned in an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan announced by President Donald Trump in January.

The proposal calls for Israeli sovereignty over about 30% of the West Bank, as well as the creation of a Palestinian state under strict conditions.

Netanyahu and his main coalition government partner, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, are at odds over annexation, which the right-wing prime minister has promoted.

In an interview with the YNet news site on Tuesday, Gantz — head of the centrist Blue and White party — repeated his call for Israel to try to enlist Palestinian and international support for the Trump plan before proceeding with a unilateral annexation move.

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