Dec 24, 2019

Netanyahu promises Trump's backing for Israeli sovereignty over settlements

Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is promising supporters that he will convince President Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all settlements on the West Bank if he wins Thursday's primary to lead the Likud Party.

Why it matters: Israel's embattled prime minister is facing his first serious challenge from within his party in over a decade. In a video published on social media accounts, he's trying to mobilize support among hardline party members from the settlements.

  • His opponent Gideon Sa’ar led a hardline right-wing campaign and attacked Netanyahu for being soft on the Palestinians and for not implementing his promises for annexation and expanding settlements.

What he's saying: “The same way I got Trump to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the U.S. recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights and the American statement that the settlements doesn’t contradict international law…I am going to do something more — I am going to bring U.S. recognition in our sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and in all the settlements — this is the next stage — and only I can get this,” Netanyahu says in the video.

The catch: Several days before the September elections, Netanyahu announced he would annex the Jordan Valley and all the settlements in the West Bank if elected, but he failed to form a government.

  • When a scenario of a third election became real he said publicly that he had discussed his annexation plan with President Trump and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, giving the impression he had Trump and Pompeo’s support.
  • The State Department denied Pompeo had ever discussed the issue with Netanyahu.

What they're not saying: The White House never confirmed Trump discussed the issue with Netanyahu.

  • White House officials were careful not to publicly deny Netanyahu’s claims and haven’t publicly stated their position was on Israeli annexation of parts of the West Bank, in order not to get dragged into the Israeli election campaign.
  • But sources who spoke to White House officials got the impression they were not happy with Netanyahu’s annexation comments and his insinuations that Trump supported it.

Go deeper: Israel heads for third elections with Netanyahu weakened by indictments

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Netanyahu declares victory in Likud primary as Israel heads for third elections

Supporters hold up banners as thousands of people attend a rally against the Netanyahu indictment on November 26, 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he had won a "giant victory" in the primary race for leadership of his ruling Likud Party Thursday night, the AP reports.

Why it matters: If the early results hold, it would be the first hurdle cleared by the embattled prime minister as Israel heads for its third elections in less than a year. Netanyahu, who is seeking to maintain immunity after being indicted last month on corruption charges, pledged to convince President Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and all settlements in the West Bank in a last-ditch campaign promise ahead of Thursday's primary.

Go deeper: Israel heads for third elections with Netanyahu weakened by indictments

Keep ReadingArrowDec 26, 2019

White House opposes Israel's West Bank annexation prior to release of peace plan

Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Benny Gantz. Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty Staff, Jack Guez/Getty Contributor

The White House is opposed to Israel's moves to annex the West Bank prior to the release of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening.

Go deeperArrowJan 22, 2020

Israel strikes back after Gaza rocket forces Netanyahu's evacuation

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on after lighting a Hanukkah candle at the Western Wall, Judaism's holiest prayer site, in the Old City of Jerusalem on Dec. 22. Photo: Sebastian Scheiner/Pool/AFP via Getty Images

After local media reported a rocket fired from Gaza forced the evacuation of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, the Israel Defense Force tweeted it' "struck a number of Hamas terror targets in Gaza" in response.


Go deeperArrowDec 26, 2019