Israeli annexation of all the West Bank settlements can move forward as early as July, according to a coalition agreement that was completed between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud and Benny Gantz's Blue and White on Monday.
The agreement's signing was postponed after Likud tried to walk back its compromises enabling Blue and White to control the Judicial selection committee. But even as Blue and White representatives left the Prime Minister's Office, they admitted that agreements had been reached on all remaining issues when Netanyahu and Gantz met at Netanyahu's Jerusalem residence on Monday and said they expected the signing to take place soon.
Netanyahu compromised on the judicial selection committee and Gantz on how and when to implement US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan, especially its clauses on applying sovereignty in Judea and Samaria.
As early as July 10, Netanyahu can bring the plan to the cabinet for a vote. He would have to consult with Gantz and US President Donald Trump on the sovereignty plan, but Gantz would not have veto power on the plan.
There are enough votes in the Knesset to approve West Bank annexation, irrespective of the formation of the formation of the government.
The ultra-Orthodox parties of Shas and United Torah Judaism have adopted Netanyahu’s policy on the application of sovereignty.
Yamina supports it, as does Yisrael Beytenu whether they are in the government or not. Derech Eretz MKs Yoaz Hendel and Zvi Hauser as well as Gesher leader Orly Levy-Abecassis will support it, creating a pro-sovereignty bloc of some 68 votes without Gantz's MKs.
Gantz supports the application of sovereignty, but only if it’s done in dialogue with the international community. When it comes to the Jordan Valley he only wanted to take action in coordination with the King of Jordan so as to avert destabilizing the Hashemite Kingdom’s rule.
Yesh Atid-Telem faction chairman Ofer Shelah accused Gantz of surrendering to Netanyahu on the issue. Joint List head Ayman Odeh said Gantz "detroyed any chances of peace and founded an apartheid state with Jewish citizens and Palestinian subjects."
Yamina also used the word "surrendered" in describing what Netanyahu did to Gantz and warned that if the deal is not changed, the party could not join the government. Yamina said July was too close to the US election and called on Netanyahu to bring the annexation to a Knesset vote prior to the passage of any legislation that would ensure the rotation between Netanyahu and Gantz as prime minister.
Efrat Council head and Yesha Foreign Envoy Oded Revivi welcomed news of the unity government that could allow for sovereignty.
“I am glad that the issue of sovereignty is on Netanyahu and Gantz's agenda, and I trust that with the right actions and the right discourse, both internally and externally, we will figure out how to apply Israeli law in Judea and Samaria,” he said. But the Sovereinty Movement warned that "application of sovereignty must correspond exclusively to Israeli interests and the Zionist vision and not to the Trump plan that ultimately leads to a Palestinian terrorist state."
In a joint statement, Likud and Blue and White said negotiations were currently underway and were being carried out in a positive and constructive manner toward forming a government as quickly as possible. For instance, both sides agreed to maintain status quo on matters of religion and state and make changes that Shas requested to the controversial haredi (ultra-Orthodox) draft bill.
The agreement calls for initially appointing 30 ministers and then four more after the coronavirus crisis ends. Eighty MKs would be required to repeal the rotation in the Prime Minister's Office.
Earlier, Gantz, who is also Knesset speaker, warned Netanyahu that if he would not make concessions leading to the signing of an agreement by Monday afternoon he would enable the advancement of anti-Netanyahu legislation, such as bills that would limit a prime minister to two terms in office and prevent an indicted MK from forming the government.
Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar called accusing Gantz's threat "Mafia tactics" and said Netanyahu would not surrender to him.
"Benny, this is not how you create unity," Zohar said. "This is how you incite and divide."
Yesh Atid-Telem MK Moshe Ya'alon, Gantz's former partner in Blue and White's leadership cockpit, praised the threat, saying that "it is still not too late to reverse a mistake in navigation."
Yamina leader Naftali Bennett told Army Radio on Monday morning that there was no guarantee he would join the government and it would depend on what his party is offered by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"We will look at the government and see its policies," he said. "If we see it as a bus going the wrong way, we won't get on the bus. The ball is in his court."