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Reports: Netanyahu Walking Back Vow to Immediately Annex All Settlements

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu will reportedly press ahead with annexing only three areas in the West Bank on July 1 despite repeated vows to apply sovereignty over all Jewish communities and the Jordan Valley in the Palestinian-claimed territory. According to sources, the regions slated for annexation include Ma’ale Adumim and Gush Etzion, both located in close proximity to Jerusalem, in addition to Ariel in the northern West Bank. While Netanyahu previously asserted that he would annex 132 settlements at the beginning of next month, he apparently has walked back his maximalist position amid widespread global opposition. It also comes on the backdrop of a reported demand by the Trump Administration that the prospective move be widely supported in the Israeli cabinet, whose members are split nearly evenly. In this respect, Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz is on record as saying he would prefer the annexations be coordinated with the international community, and has insisted that the initiative not jeopardize the 1994 peace treaty with Jordan. Nevertheless, there is a broad consensus across the political spectrum and among the public that the three designated areas – which all contain relatively large Jewish populations – would be incorporated into Israel even in the event of a peace deal with the Palestinians, thus making the decision less contentious. The White House’s peace plan envisions the Jewish state eventually annexing about 30% of the West Bank, with the rest of the territory conditionally allocated to a future Palestinian state.