“We’re already in the process of mapping the territory that according to the Trump plan will be part of the State of Israel”, Netanyahu reportedly said during his party’s campaign event on Saturday. “This won’t take a lot of time and we’ll complete this”.
“Don’t be mistaken, the Americans will go along with this, President Trump will go along with this”, the Israeli prime minister purportedly added.
On 18 January, Donald Trump unveiled his long-anticipated peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict branded the “deal of the century”. The plan recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s undivided capital and acknowledged Tel Aviv’s sovereignty over numerous settlements in the West Bank that are home to an estimated 400,000 Israelis and 2 million Palestinians. Officials from the Palestinian National Authority (PNA) have repeatedly called the settlements illegal, and the UN has said they are a violation of international law and the Fourth Geneva Convention.
Following Trump’s publication of the peace plan, Netanyahu vowed to push ahead with Israel’s extension of sovereignty over settlements within days. However, Jared Kushner, White House advisor and mastermind behind Trump’s deal, later urged Israel to halt its plans until after elections on 2 March take place.
After these developments, Netanyahu appeared to rethink his initial plan of swiftly moving into the territory, saying during a campaign event on Tuesday that the extension of Israeli sovereignty would take place “as soon as we [Likud]win the election”, urging voters to support his bid. Israel is currently mired in an unprecedented political deadlock between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party and opposition from the Blue and White alliance headed by Benny Gantz.
Last week, Jared Kushner, who is also Donald Trump’s son-in-law, said that it would take several months for a US-Israeli commission to complete work on a detailed West Bank map instead of a “conceptual” one, which would allow the extension of Israel’s sovereignty over the territory to come to fruition. Israel’s plans, as well as Trump’s deal, have been vehemently denounced by PNA officials, with President Mahmoud Abbas saying that the American proposal would eventually be thrown into the “garbage can of history” despite aiming for a two-state solution.