Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz told his Blue and White party on Monday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to annex parts of the West Bank will have to wait due to the coronavirus crisis. Netanyahu responded to Gantz’s comments and said his coalition partners in the Blue and White party are “not a factor” in deciding on annexation.
“We are in discreet talks with US officials here,” Netanyahu said at a Likud party meeting on Monday. “We are doing it discreetly. The matter is not up to Blue and White, they are not a factor either way.” July 1st is the date Netanyahu hopes to start the annexation process.
According to The Jerusalem Post, multiple US sources said that Israel will not take steps to annex parts of the West Bank this week. The Post reported that annexation plans and US approval of them will not be available by July 1st.
US envoy Avi Berkowitz and Scott Leith of the National Security Council are in Israel this week to meet with officials. The two are expected to report back to White House advisor Jared Kushner before approving any plans.
Netanyahu and Gantz agreed to form a coalition government in April after three back-to-back elections failed to secure a victory for either party. The two have been butting heads over annexation ever since, with Netanyahu wanting to go ahead and declare sovereignty over the areas allocated to Israel is President Trump’s “peace plan,” which makes up about 30 percent of the West Bank.
Gantz favors a more cautious approach and has floated the idea of doing the annexation in phases, but now it seems the defense minister wants to delay the whole process altogether.