Amid Mounting Pressure, Netanyahu Says West Bank Annexations ‘Will Advance Peace’
US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on January 27 in the Oval Office of the White House. (D. Myles Cullen/Official White House Photo)

Amid Mounting Pressure, Netanyahu Says West Bank Annexations ‘Will Advance Peace’

“Applying Israeli law to areas of Judea and Samaria that will remain part of Israel in any future deal [with the Palestinians] will not set back the cause of peace, it will advance peace,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asserted Sunday night, employing the biblical names for the West Bank. His comments came less than 72 hours ahead of the July 1 date he set to press ahead with annexing up to 30% of the contested territory in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. “I encourage the Palestinians not to lose another opportunity, not to waste another century trying to destroy Israel,” Netanyahu said. “They should be prepared to negotiate a historic compromise that can bring peace to Israelis and Palestinians alike. Israel is prepared for such negotiations; I am prepared for such negotiations,” he added. It comes on the backdrop of growing international pressure aimed at thwarting the initiative and amid divisions in Israel’s cabinet, as well in the White House, over how, if at all, to proceed. According to the latest reports out of Jerusalem and Washington, the most likely case is that Israel will advance with piecemeal annexations, perhaps initially by incorporating into the Jewish state the large settlement blocs and Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion, both located on the outskirts of Jerusalem, as well as the city of Ariel in the northern West Bank. In his address, Netanyahu stressed that President Trump’s plan “confronts a great lie head on – the lie that the Jewish people are foreign colonialists in [its] own ancestral homeland.”

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