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Israeli annexation talks threaten ties with Arab world

The Israeli annexation discourse bolsters radical elements in the Arab world and undermines the moderates, thus threatening Israeli aspirations for diplomatic relations and commercial ties.

The issue of possible Israeli land annexation in the West Bank has become an endless source of spin for Israeli politicians. The hard-line right-wing Yamina party is accusing the right-wing Likud of not really wanting to push ahead with the annexation and only giving it lip service. The centrist Blue and White party said it was willing to discuss such a move “under certain circumstances,” only to have its No. 2, Gabi Ashkenazi, reportedly dismiss the option out of hand.

Two things stand out in this regard. The first is the normalization of the annexation idea. The senior Israeli politicians on the verge of forming a unity government of some sort, whether now or after fourth elections are held in the summer, are addressing the annexation issue in terms of when, not if. Whereas two or three years ago, talk of annexation was the purview of Knesset members from the hard-line HaBayit HaYehudi (now Yamina) party and the most right-wing flank of the Likud, nowadays, the leader of Blue and White Benny Gantz is wrangling with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the manner of its execution and its extent, not over the very question of whether the issue should be considered at all. Meanwhile, members of Gantz’s party, some of them originally Labor party voters, are keeping mum on the issue.

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