Netanyahu privately presents 4 plans for West Bank annexation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu presented four annexation scenarios in a meeting tonight with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi — from annexing 30% of the West Bank to a more symbolic annexation of a small amount of land, an Israeli official briefed on the meeting tells me.
Why it matters: Netanyahu has vowed to move forward with annexation of at least some territory in the West Bank as soon as July 1. He's been hoping for a green light from the White House, which has said it will only agree if Israel's top leaders are unified behind the plan.
In the room: Netanyahu and the speaker of Israel's parliament, Yariv Levin, presented maps for all four scenarios but did not say which they preferred, according to the official.
- Gantz and Ashkenazi told Netanyahu they are opposed to any annexation in areas that have Palestinian inhabitants.
- They want annexation to take place in a broader diplomatic context in which the Palestinians get something in return, the official says.
- The meeting ended with no decisions or meaningful progress, but more discussions are expected in the coming days.
The big picture: Any unilateral Israeli annexation would be widely considered a violation of international law and fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, countries in the region including Jordan, as well as the European Union.
What to watch: The pushback against the annexation plan from America's Arab allies is getting stronger.
- Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto leader of the UAE, assured King Abdullah of Jordan today that the UAE would categorically reject "Israel's illegal annexation of Palestinian lands" and rally international opposition.
- That unusually strong statement shows how adamant the UAE is in supporting Jordan's campaign against Israeli annexation.
- King Abdullah has stressed Jordan's rejection of the plan in conference calls over the last two days with top leaders in the U.S. House of Representatives, Senate and the foreign affairs committees in both chambers.