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Netanyahu. Photo: GALI TIBBON/AFP/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu has asked members of his party in the Knesset not to press forward on a bill annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank until President Trump presents his Middle East peace plan.

The bottom line: Netanyahu explained that after Trump presents his peace plan and the Palestinians reject it, Israel will have a better chance to start discussing with the White House the possibility of annexing the settlements.

Israeli officials who were briefed on Netanyahu's conversations with Likud members of Knesset told me the Prime Minister said pushing the bill now might jeopardize the Israel position and might harm the ability to annex the settlements in the future.

The plan
  • Israeli officials said the White House is still working on Trump's peace plan. They added that the assessment in the Israeli cabinet is that the White House might present the plan in two months.
  • According to the officials "Netanyahu thinks the plan will be very good for Israel and is worth waiting for".
The settlements

The Israeli ministerial committee on legislation will discuss on Sunday a bill for annexing the settlements, a move advocated by right wing members of Knesset and widely supported within Netanyahu's Likud party.

  • Netanyahu has the authority to veto the bill, but would prefer to get members of Knesset to back down to avoid the political backlash.

Israel annexed occupied East Jerusalem in 1980 and then annexed the occupied Golan Heights in 1981. Israel has refrained from annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, fearing international reaction, mainly from the U.S.

  • Senior members of Knesset from Likud told me that, although Netanyahu has pressed against annexation bills in the past, this time his opposition is not about the substance and only about the timing. They said this might show greater openness by Netanyahu to support annexation bill in the future.  

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
2 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.

Biden plans to ask public to wear masks for first 100 days in office

Joe Biden. Photo: Mark Makela/Gettu Images

President-elect Joe Biden told CNN on Thursday that he plans to ask the American public to wear face masks for the first 100 days of his presidency.

The big picture: Biden also stated he has asked NIAID director Anthony Fauci to stay on in his current role, serve as a chief medical adviser and be part of his COVID-19 response team when he takes office early next year.