The United States is reportedly “highly unlikely” to green-light Israel’s annexation of about 30% of the West Bank on July 1, the date originally envisioned by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for pressing ahead with the initiative. According to the unity coalition deal struck between the right-wing Netanyahu and his centrist rival, Benny Gantz, the prime minister can, as of the beginning of next month, hold a vote on applying Israeli sovereignty over Palestinian-claimed territories either in the cabinet or the Knesset, the country’s parliament. A joint US-Israeli committee is presently mapping out areas in the West Bank that would be incorporated into the Jewish state, and the Times of Israel news site on Wednesday reported that the process could take up to several months. (One reason is the inability of a key American member of the team to travel to the region due to the coronavirus pandemic.) Moreover, neither US senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner – the architect of the Trump Administration’s peace plan – nor special envoy for the peace process Avi Berkowitz have visited Israel since the proposal was released in January. On Monday, Netanyahu spoke with Kushner, following which Israeli media reported that the US was now seeking to “downplay [the] enthusiasm” and “greatly slow” any annexation. Nevertheless, President Donald Trump has vowed to recognize the prospective move once the corresponding West Bank regions have been agreed to by Washington and Jerusalem. Despite widespread international opposition, Netanyahu has stated publicly that he intends to push forward with the initiative sometime next month, although analysts remain skeptical that he would do so without the White House’s full backing.
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