Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is urging patience over his nation’s prospective annexation of significant parts of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley.
While reiterating his assurance such an extension will eventually become a fait accompli during his weekly cabinet meeting, the Premier then asserted that the primary goal is achieving American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Jewish People’s ancestral homeland. After reminding his ministers that he and US President Donald Trump “made history” with the American initiative, “according to which the U.S. will recognize our sovereignty over the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea and communities in Judea and Samaria without exception, large and small, and the area surrounding them,” said Netanyahu, added, “This brings the main thing – which is American recognition of our sovereignty and of the application of the law to the territories that the plan designates as being part of Israel.”
The Israeli leader then proclaimed that “work has begun” on the required “precise mapping of these territories, the entire territory” involving “a perimeter of 800 kilometers (497 miles).” After stating there is agreement between Jerusalem and Washington that the Cabinet will be presented with the results upon completion, Netanyahu then restated yet once again that, “the Americans are saying very clearly: ‘We want to give you the recognition, and we will give it to you, when the entire process has been completed.’ This recognition is the main point.”
In a cautionary message to Israeli leaders on both sides of the aisle, Netanyahu said, “We do not want to endanger this. We are working responsibly and sagaciously. To all those tweeting from outside and even from within the government, we have done the work. We will complete the work; therefore, the work is underway, and I hope it will be completed very soon.”
Despite Netanyahu’s appeal for time, the leader of the Yesha umbrella organization of Judea and Samaria settlements is voicing rising impatience over the proposed annexation plan. “We must not postpone this decision for even one moment. This is a historic moment, this is an important moment, both for the State of Israel and the US, and it should take place immediately,” advocated Yigal Dilmoni, adding a veiled threat that,“The more it lingers, the more it attracts objections – and could possibly cause damage for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in (upcoming) election.”
While right-wing political figures caution the Likud party head over the potential fallout his inaction may have on the outcome of the upcoming 2 March national elections, the United States is warning the Israeli leader not to succumb to domestic pressure. During remarks at the Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs think tank, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said a unilateral move by the Israeli government could result in the loss of support from Washington.
“The President got up and he made a speech, and he said there will be a committee and the committee will take… go through a process, the process will not last very long but we want to go through a process,” the US Envoy said, while underscoring, “The politics seem to be emerging, that you know people are saying – who cares about the process, let’s go do what we want. I can’t stop that; I’m not suggesting that the government of Israel shouldn’t do whatever it wants to do but I think people should know that if the President’s position is simply ignored then we are not going to be in a position to go forward.”
Friedman, who championed American recognition for Jerusalem and the Golan Heights, stressed that while the White House stance should not be viewed as a threat, it should be understood that the Trump Administration will not back down.
After clarifying, “We just don’t think it’s going to happen before March 2, but beyond that the committee will proceed as quickly as it can,” Friedman further explained, “With the news out that the (Israeli) cabinet was about to be pushed in a direction that was potentially adverse to our view of the process, we just let people know where we stand. It was not a threat, just let people know where we stand.”