Israel’s Netanyahu Pushes Planned Annexation Past March Election

(Bloomberg) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu appears to be pushing back his contentious plans to annex territory in the West Bank until after next month’s national ballot.

“When we win, we will continue making history,” Netanyahu said at a campaign rally Tuesday, according to the Jerusalem Post newspaper. “When we win, we will extend sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria,” he said, using the biblical name for the West Bank.

That marks a change from just last week, when Netanyahu said he’d bring annexation for a Cabinet vote as early as Feb. 2. The Trump peace plan unveiled on Jan. 28 would sanction such a move in West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, but Trump administration officials later said action shouldn’t be taken before Israel’s March 2 vote.

The plan that was released at the White House in Netanyahu’s presence has been flatly rejected by the Palestinians, who want all of the West Bank as the heart of a future state.

Netanyahu is using annexation as a campaign rallying cry for his nationalist Likud. Yet there is little evidence so far the Trump plan roll-out is boosting Netanyahu, with polls showing Likud still trailing former military chief Benny Gantz’s Blue and White bloc.

©2020 Bloomberg L.P.

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