Gantz tells settlers leaders to get on board annexation plans

Jewish settlers in the West Bank (Mamoun Wazwaz - APA Images)

Middle East Monitor  /  June 10, 2020

Israeli Defence Minister Benny Gantz met with Israeli settler leaders yesterday to persuade them to accept Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s annexation plan, Arab48 reported.

“When we take diplomatic steps, we must pay careful attention to what is happening on the ground and in the area around us, including, for example, preserving Israel’s peace agreement with Jordan,” The Jerusalem Post reported Gantz telling the settlers.

He added: “These agreements [including the peace agreement with Egypt] contribute greatly to regional stability and all of our security.”

Gantz said that he keeps discussing the plan with Netanyahu. “The prime minister and I are sitting together and discussing the different possibilities within the diplomatic arena and I hope that we will be able to come to an agreement.”

“We will always work in full cooperation with the Americans,” Gantz told the settler leaders. “I would like to emphasise here, the United States is our best friend in the world. It supports us with regard to strategic issues that impact our destiny and we will maintain this partnership.”

He stressed: “It is important, moving forward that the unity of Israeli society is preserved in spite of the differences of opinion,” adding that he agreed to the power sharing government deal just to preserve societal unity.

London-based Arabic language news outlet Rai Al-Youm reported yesterday that Gantz is set to visit Jordan amid rising tensions between the two countries over plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and the strategic Jordan Valley.

On 1 June, the Israeli defence minister ordered the army to intensify preparations to deal with the potentially violent fall out from annexation.

In a statement, Gantz said: “Preparations by the Israel Defence Forces should be stepped up ahead of pending diplomatic moves regarding the Palestinians.”

Meanwhile the US administration, traditionally a supporter of Israeli annexation, last week asked Netanyahu to “greatly slow the process” while President Donald Trump deals with domestic tensions over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis on 25 May.