Netanyahu secretly assured Israeli settler leaders annexation will happen without US conditions

Netanyahu secretly assured Israeli settler leaders annexation will happen without US conditions
Israel's PM has privately told settlement leaders West Bank annexation will happen free from the conditions of Trump's peace plan, namely a freeze on settlement expansion and negotiations with Palestinians
2 min read
03 June, 2020
Netanyahu plans to begin annexation on 1 July [Getty]
Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has told settler leaders that he plans to annex the occupied West Bank without conditions set in a US peace plan for the region, according to a report in Haaretz.

Netanyahu reportedly held a private meeting on Tuesday with key figures in the Israeli settler movement behind closed doors.

He told them that the annexation of the Palestinian territories will be implemented without adopting any of the demands of US President Donald Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century" peace plan.

This included a freeze on settlement expansion, holding peace talks with the Palestinians, and the isolation of around 15 settlements inside territories designated for a future Palestinian mini-state.

However, following the meeting Netanyahu's office issued a statement reaffirming his commitment to negotiations with the Palestinians, in accordance with Trump's plan, which has been widely rejected by Arab governments including the Palestinian Authority.

Such an announcement indicates that the Israeli prime minister's commitment to the plan will be declarative rather than enshrined by law, according to Haaretz.

However Benny Gantz's Blue and White party, which shares power with Netanyahu's Likud, opposes the separation of annexation from the White House plan.

The report comes after weeks of vocal opposition from settler groups over the conditions accompanying the planned annexation of parts of the West Bank, which is set to include settlements and the Jordan Valley.

The settlement movement is overwhelmingly against any form of Palestinian statehood.

According to the source, Netanyahu said in the meeting that the Israeli government is still negotiating with the US on the topic of annexation.

In-depth: The common thread between Palestine's Nakba and Israeli annexation

Jared Kushner, Trump's senior advisor, has reportedly pleaded with Netanyahu to slow down the annexation process while Washington grapples with spiralling domestic unrest, Israeli media reported on Tuesday.

The Palestinian side pre-emptively rejected Trump's so-called "Deal of the Century", pointing out the undeniable bias towards Israel.

It has called for international sanctions against Israel if it goes ahead with annexation.

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