Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has expressed frustration over stalled plans to annex the West Bank, blaming the hold-up on Washington’s reluctance to approve the move.
“It was clear from the start that the application of sovereignty would be done only with agreement from the United States. Otherwise, I would have already done it a while ago,” Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 20. He claimed that US President Donald Trump was now “busy with other things” and that “issues of importance to Israel” were not a top priority for Washington at the moment.
The annexation, which is part of Trump’s ‘peace plan’ for the region, was originally slated to begin in July. Under the White House plan, Israel would absorb 30 percent of the occupied territory that it captured from Jordan during the 1967 Six Day War. The rest of the West Bank would be governed by Palestinians, but security and border policy would be decided by Israel.
More than 460,000 Israelis live in these settlements, built in violation of international laws, and the annexation will strip the Palestinians of a significant chunk of their territory. Palestinian factions denounced the proposal as dead on arrival.
However, the Trump administration has reportedly been unwilling to give final approval to push forward with annexation. Netanyahu said at the start of August that he was waiting for Washington’s signal to “apply sovereignty” to the West Bank.
Although the White House was initially supportive of annexation, the plan has received near-unanimous opposition in the international community.
If the annexation doesn’t occur in the coming weeks, it’s possible that it could be halted indefinitely. Netanyahu is currently in a budget battle with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. If a budget isn’t passed by the end of August, Israel would be forced to hold another election, putting annexation on hold for the foreseeable future. There are also fears in Tel Aviv that they could lose support for the move if Trump fails to secure re-election in November.