July First Comes and Goes, with No Annexation
July 1 arrived in Israel amid confusion rather than the expected announcements indicating that land conquered in the 1967 war had been annexed or would begin a process of annexation to the Jewish state. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu sent a confidant before the microphones to explain that the date had not been absolute, and placed the reason for the delay on the Trump Administration. The White House has indicated that it needs to see agreement within Israel’s unity government before green-lighting such a contentious event. Although Netanyahu’s stand-in, Development Minister Ofir Akunis, indicated that the annexation would likely take place “later in July,” a growing number of observers believe it won’t happen at all. International pressure continues to mount, with many anti-annexation voices belonging to those with solid pro-Israel bona fides being heard. Even among those most directly affected by annexation, “settlers” are divided between those in favor and those who are opposed because it is tied to the Trump “vision for peace,” which includes the creation of a Palestinian state. Political analysts add that as President Trump’s re-election bid becomes increasingly problematic, there appears to be no upside to plunging head-on into such a divisive issue. Given the American political landscape, Netanyahu has to be weighing the Biden Factor and the consequences for US-Israel relations that his election might pose – especially with Biden already under enormous pressure from the far-left of his own party to impose sanctions on Israel.