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Intel: Netanyahu, Gantz strike West Bank annexation deal

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, struck a deal today to annex parts of the West Bank as part of their bid to form a unity government.
Houses in the Israeli settlement of settlement of Kedumim are seen in the foreground as part of the Palestinian city of Nablus is seen in the background (far left) in the Israeli-occupied West Bank February 20, 2020. Picture taken February 20, 2020. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun - RC2R7F9HN66O

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival, Blue and White leader Benny Gantz, struck a deal today to annex parts of the West Bank as part of their bid to form a unity government.

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Danny Danon, noted that the agreement requires Netanyahu to consult with Gantz and Washington before moving ahead with annexation, as outlined in President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

“It’s only a consultation,” said Danon in an online webcast hosted by the conservative Hudson Institute. “He doesn’t need the approval of Blue and White, Benny Gantz’s party, but he will need to consult with them. But I think more importantly, Prime Minister Netanyahu said that he will work with the US administration, and that he will do it with the administration.”

Why it matters: The West Bank annexation plan was one of the major hurdles in Netanyahu’s negotiations to form a unity government with Gantz. But shortly after clearing that obstacle, Israeli media reports emerged indicating that a disagreement over the appointment of judges has posed a last-minute obstacle to a final agreement.

What’s next: Danon hinted that an annexation could come as soon as this summer —– provided Israel successfully wards off the coronavirus pandemic and salvages the economy.

“People aren’t dealing with the peace plan, people are dealing with the virus,” said Danon. “It will take some time. And hopefully in the summer we can go back and deal with other issues.”

Trump’s special adviser for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Jared Kushner, is also handling the White House’s coronavirus response.

Know more: Check out Mazal Mualem's story detailing the impact COVID-19 has had on Israel’s Passover preparations. 

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