Updated Sep 10, 2019

Netanyahu vows to annex parts of West Bank if he wins re-election

Photo: Abir Sultan/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday his intention to promote annexation steps in the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and areas north of the Dead Sea, if he wins next week's elections.

Why it matters: Netanyahu had already spoken about annexation before Israel's elections last April, but he didn’t commit or promise anything. Netanyahu’s statement is directed at his right-wing base and the settler lobby in order to boost support for his Likud party over other right-wing parties, ensuring that Likud wins most seats in the elections to gain an upper hand in building a coalition.

  • The international community sees the West Bank as Palestinian occupied territory and the Israeli settlements there as illegal.
  • The Trump administration has changed U.S. policy on the West Bank, and while it is not recognized as part of Israel, it is not designated as occupied.

Between the lines: Netanyahu wanted to get some kind of a pre-election gesture from President Trump — for example, a statement that would grant support for annexation.

  • The White House has decided to postpone the publication of its Israeli-Palestinian peace plan until after Israel's elections. Netanyahu's statement on annexation could further complicate the White House's plans.
  • Administration officials say the U.S. was informed of Netanyahu’s announcement before it was made. They stressed they don’t think Netanyahu’s statement precludes the possibility of a political settlement in the future.
  • A Trump administration official told me: "There is no change in United States policy at this time regarding the West Bank. We will release our Vision for Peace after the Israeli election and work to determine the best path forward to bring long sought security, opportunity and stability to the region."
  • Netanyahu said that as a courtesy to President Trump, he will wait to annex Israeli settlements in the West Bank until after the White House releases its peace plan. He emphasized, however, that diplomatic conditions are ripe to annex the Jordan Valley right after the formation of the government.

Worth noting: U.S. Ambassador David Friedman said in June that Israel has the right to annex some, but "unlikely all" of the West Bank.

Go deeper: Netanyahu exposes what he claims to be a nuclear weapons site in Iran

Go deeper

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 5,428,605 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,179,408Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 8 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  4. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  5. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  6. Federal government: Trump attacks a Columbia University study that suggests earlier lockdown could have saved 36,000 American lives.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. coronavirus updates

Data: The Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins; Map: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios. This graphic includes "probable deaths" that New York City began reporting on April 14.

The CDC is warning of potentially "aggressive rodent behavior" amid a rise in reports of rat activity in several areas, as the animals search further for food while Americans stay home more during the coronavirus pandemic.

By the numbers: More than 97,700 people have died from COVID-19 and over 1.6 million have tested positive in the U.S. Over 366,700 Americans have recovered and more than 14.1 million tests have been conducted.