Netanyahu: US has kept me from annexing West Bank settlements

The prime minister’s references to plans to annex West Bank settlements come as speculation is high that Israel could be heading to yet a fourth round of elections.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the government cabinet meeting, June 28, 2020 (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the government cabinet meeting, June 28, 2020
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has blamed the US for his failure to annex West Bank settlements.
“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 said during an interview Monday with Channel 20.
Similarly, “other prime ministers would also have done it,” he added.
US President Donald “Trump is now busy with other things, and this [sovereignty] is not on the top of his mind,” Netanyahu said. “I hope that in the near future we will be able to advance recognition of the application of sovereignty as well as other diplomatic issues of importance to Israel.”
He took credit for the US decision to relocate its embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv and for its recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, as well as its declaration that West Bank settlements are not illegal.
“All of that didn’t happen by accident,” Netanyahu said.
He also referenced Trump’s peace plan, which allows for the application of Israeli sovereignty over 30% of the West Bank.
“I worked with Trump’s team on this plan for three years,” he said. “In my opinion, it is the only one that preserves Israel’s essential interests.”
He made similar comments last week at a closed-door session of the Likud faction in the Knesset.
Netanyahu’s references to plans to annex settlements come as speculation is high that the country could be heading to a fourth round of elections in 19 months. Such a move would make it impossible to formally apply sovereignty to the settlements until at least December.
Earlier in the day, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan held a Zoom meeting with Evangelical leaders, stressing to them the importance of Israeli sovereignty over portions of the West Bank.
“If you help with the application of sovereignty over all our communities, you will be remembered as being on the right side of history,” Dagan said.
Among those on the call with him were leaders from Madagascar, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zambia, Tanzania, Kenya, South Sudan, DR Congo, Nigeria and Ghana.
In addition, Sovereignty Movement co-chairs Yehudit Katzover and Nadia Matar, along with Brig.-Gen. (ret.) Amir Avivi, who heads the right-wing Bitchonistim (security advocates) Movement, met with Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen to discuss the importance of sovereignty.
Avivi spoke in support of US involvement. “The political envelope that the Americans can provide for us is important to us.”
Katzover, Matar and Dagan support sovereignty but are opposed to its application within the context of the Trump peace plan, in part because that document also speaks of a Palestinian state in the West Bank.
Cohen assured them that this would not happen. “Don’t worry, there will not be a vote for a Palestinian state.”
On Monday, PLO Executive Committee Secretary-General Saeb Erekat met with the British consul-general in Jerusalem, Philip Hall. Erekat spoke with him about the importance of preventing Israeli annexation and of reviving the stalled peace process based on the pre-1967 lines.