Netanyahu Backtracks: No West Bank Annexations Before Election
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has backtracked on his vow to immediately apply Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley and all Jewish communities located in the West Bank, saying instead that he will do so only if he wins the March 2 national election. “We, the Likud [party], won’t let this great opportunity slip from our grasp,” Netanyahu said at a campaign rally, referring to US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace plan. “But in order to guarantee it, in order to guarantee Israel’s borders, in order to guarantee the future of Israel, I need every Likud member this time around to go out and vote.” Immediately following the proposal’s unveiling at the White House last week, Netanyahu promised to convene his cabinet to push through legislation annexing about 30% of the West Bank, which the Palestinians claim in its entirety as part of a future state. However, the prime minister was seemingly caught off guard by pushback from the US administration, with Jared Kushner, the chief architect of the peace plan, making clear that Washington would not support such action until after the Israeli election.