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August 3, 2020 1:24 pm

Netanyahu: West Bank Annexation ‘Has Not Been Dropped From Agenda’

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.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised the issue of possible annexation of parts of the West Bank for the first time in weeks on Monday, asserting it remained on the government’s agenda.

Israel’s public broadcaster Kan reported that, at a closed meeting of his Likud party faction, Netanyahu said, “The issue of sovereignty is in Washington, it has not been dropped.”

“We need the White House to back it,” Netanyahu added. “It has not been dropped from the agenda.”

Conversely, Kan reported that American officials were claiming they were waiting for Netanyahu to decide on the issue.

Annexation became a prominent issue after the January unveiling of the Trump administration’s Middle East peace plan, which would allow Israel to annex 30% of the West Bank, but it fell from public attention as the coronavirus pandemic picked up steam.

Furthermore, the unity government run by Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz is split on the matter, with Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi — the top two officials in the centrist Blue and White party — expressing strong skepticism and refusing to take a formal stance.

The White House is reportedly willing to back annexation in some form, but will not do so without a consensus in the Israeli government.

Ashkenazi said recently that annexation was not on the government’s agenda, which is currently focused on fighting the coronavirus.

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