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Yariv Levin (L) with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) and Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman. Photo: Abir Sultan/AFP via Getty Images

Speaker of the Israeli Knesset Yariv Levin said in a meeting between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and settler leaders on Sunday that Israel will move forward with annexation of parts of the West Bank "within weeks," sources who attended the meeting told me.

Why it matters: Levin is heading the team formed by Netanyahu to negotiate with the Trump administration over the West Bank annexation maps. In the last few months, he has held numerous meetings and phone calls about the issue with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his team.

The big picture: The coalition agreement that allowed Netanyahu to form his new government says he can bring "the understandings with the Trump administration" on annexation up for a vote in his Cabinet or the Knesset as early as July 1 — but only with the full agreement of the White House.

What they're saying:

  • Netanyahu was more reserved about the timetable for annexation. According to one of the people who attended the meeting, Netanyahu told settler leaders he still doesn’t have a “green light” from the White House to move forward with his annexation plan and that the details and the maps haven’t been agreed to yet with the Trump administration. Netanyahu said he is working within a tight schedule to annex "the maximum territory possible" in the West Bank.
  • The prime minister stressed in his meeting with the settler leaders that Israel needs to seize the opportunity now with Trump in the White House. "We must not make Trump think we are not interested in annexation," Netanyahu said, according to people who attended the meeting.
  • Netanyahu also told settler leaders that the Trump administration refers to a "Palestinian state" in its peace plan, but that Israel doesn't define it as such. He stressed that any Cabinet decision on annexation will not refer in any way to Israeli agreement for a Palestinian state.

What to watch: After meeting with the settlers, Netanyahu met with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi to discuss the annexation plan. Both Gantz and Ashkenazi have expressed deep concerns and reservations.

  • Before bringing any annexation plan to the White House for approval, Netanyahu will have to get an agreement on the details with Gantz and Ashkenazi.
  • Without such a consensus, he will have a difficult time getting a green light from the Trump administration.

Go deeper

Sep 13, 2020 - World

Israel to reimpose 3-week lockdown after surge in coronavirus cases

Photo: Yonathan Sindel/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Sunday the government will impose a three-week lockdown in Israel, the West Bank and Gaza following a major resurgence in coronavirus cases, AP reports.

Why it matters: Israel is the first developed country to re-enter lockdown, which it had initially lifted in May, according to Haaretz. The lockdown will begin on Friday, coinciding with the start of Rosh Hashanah.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Image: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Australian PM pledges $700M for climate change-threatened Great Barrier reef

A green sea turtle is flourishing among the corals at Lady Elliot island in Australia's Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Jonas Gratzer/LightRocket via Getty Images

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced Friday a AU$1 billion ($703 million) investment plan for the Great Barrier Reef.

Why it matters: The nine-year plan for projects including water quality improvement, reef conservation and supporting some 64,000 tourism jobs comes months ahead of this year's federal election. It has been criticized by scientists and environmental groups for failing to tackle climate change.