Settlers ramp up protests ahead of Washington sovereignty parley

Jordanian and Egyptian foreign ministers affirm their opposition to annexation.

Yesha Council leaders at the protest tent outside the Prime Minister's Office.  (photo credit: YESHA COUNCIL)
Yesha Council leaders at the protest tent outside the Prime Minister's Office.
(photo credit: YESHA COUNCIL)
Ahead of an anticipated White House decision on any Israeli annexation plan, settler leaders rallied Sunday in front of the Prime Minister’s Office to demand that Israel reject US President Donald Trump’s peace deal, which they fear will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state.
They also fear it will lead to a settler building freeze and the destruction of at least 15 settlements.
There are fewer than 10 days left until July 1 – the earliest date by which according to the coalition agreement between the Likud and Blue and White – that Israel can annex up to 30% of the West Bank.
Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi continued his campaign against the plan, speaking with his Egyptian counterpart, Sameh Shoukry. He later tweeted that they affirmed their rejection of Israel’s annexation plans.
The Palestinian Authority is scheduled to hold a protest against the plan on Monday in Jericho. On Wednesday, the UN Security Council is expected to debate the plan when it holds its monthly meeting on the Middle East.
In Jerusalem on Sunday, settler leaders set up a protest tent in advance of US Ambassador David Friedman’s expected trip to Washington to discuss the Trump administration’s redlines with respect to annexation.
“We are in one of the most critical weeks for the settlements,” said Yesha Council head and Jordan Valley Regional Council head David Elhayani.
“It appears that the decision on the application of sovereignty will take place this week,” he said. “We say to the prime minister: ‘do not give in to [Joint List MK Ahmad] Tibi. Do not give in to [Joint List Party head MK Ayman] Odeh. Do not give in to [Alternate Prime Minister Benny] Gantz. Don’t give in to [Foreign Minister Gabi] Ashkenazi. Stand behind your commitments and apply sovereignty this week.”
He urged Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to show leadership and courage rather than coming up with excuses to avoid the application of sovereignty, such as concern for the international reaction or its impact on the Israeli-Jordanian peace treaty.
“You have public support. You have Knesset support. Any decision with regard to the application of sovereignty will pass by a large majority. It’s time for action and not words,” Elhayani said.
Elhayani supports Israeli sovereignty in the West Bank, but wants Netanyahu to apply it outside the context of Trump’s plan, which he opposes.
Efrat Council head Oded Revivi also came to the area outside the Prime Minister’s Office – to make precisely the opposite argument. He holds that the only way to move forward is within the context of the Trump plan. He so holds by the significance of sovereignty that he is willing to risk the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state, because he believes that if such statehood is achieved within the parameters of the plan, it will not present a danger to Israel.
In the name of all those living in the settlements who support the plan, he called on the government “not to miss this historic opportunity” – to approve a plan that would allow for the application of sovereignty with US approval.
Opinions are currently divided between Netanyahu and Gantz as to the best way to advance sovereignty, with Netanyahu preferring to annex all the settlements and Gantz wanting a phased plan that begins with the blocs.
No final decision has been made and it is unclear where Washington stands on a phased or full annexation, particularly given the objections of Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates and Jordan, which have been very vocal in their opposition.
In the West Bank, Samaria Regional Council head Yossi Dagan spoke of the importance of moving forward with a sovereignty plan, even without a US green light.
Now is the time to stand strong and insist that the US make critical changes to its sovereignty map, Dagan told a group of former IDF commanders who visited him in his office in the Samaria Regional Council.
The lead-up to the US elections in November is an opportune moment for Israel to hold its ground against the US, because the Trump administration would not want to lose any Evangelical support by taking steps to harm Israel, Dagan said.
Former justice minister Ayelet Shaked (Yamina) also visited Samaria, and spoke out against the plan.
She said her party would “back the prime minister if he does the right thing. The Trump plan is in essence a plan to establish a Palestinian state. We can’t accept this.”
The right-wing group Regavim opened up a billboard campaign to urge Netanyahu to apply sovereignty separate from the US, stating: “History will be the judge. Yes to sovereignty. No to a Palestinian state.”