Israel: Minister insists that annexation is not on government agenda

Israeli Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata (Jack Guez - AFP)

Middle East Monitor  /  July 14, 2020

Israel’s planned annexation of large parts of the occupied Palestinian West Bank is not currently on the government’s agenda, Immigration and Absorption Minister Pnina Tamano-Shata said on Monday.

Speaking to Reshet Bet radio, the minister stressed that the government is currently putting the fight against the coronavirus at the top of its priorities. She hinted that there was overall little clarity as to when the issue will be discussed by the government and whether that would actually happen at all.

Under the coalition agreement, said Tamano-Shata, the issue of annexation would be dealt with along with other responsible measures. If approved by the cabinet, she noted, it would be sent to the Knesset (parliament) and coordinated with the international community.

The MK is a member of the Blue and White party headed by Defence Minister and Alternative Prime Minister Benny Gantz. She pointed out that the date set by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the annexation plan to begin, 1 July, should not be given too much meaning. There was nothing “holy” about it.

Meanwhile, the Israeli Broadcast Corporation has revealed new American conditions for the annexation of the occupied Palestinian territory.

It reported American sources saying that the White House is demanding an agreement between the Likud and Blue and White that maintains Israel’s “political stability”, stressing that this must not be part of any electoral campaign.

The sources added that Washington wants “important changes” for the Palestinians, including Israel’s approval for the building of thousands of Palestinian housing units and legitimising those structures which the government claims were built without licences.

Despite none of these demands being met, and the ongoing Covid-19 crisis in Israel, Likud sources still expect Netanyahu to go ahead with the annexation plan.