JERUSALEM, Israel – Defense Minister and “Alternate” prime minister Benny Gantz on Monday ordered the IDF to prepare for the country’s impending annexation of Jewish communities in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be able to push the annexation plan forward starting on July 1 if he has approval from Israel’s parliament.
Just one month away, Gantz told the IDF Chief of Staff to “step up preparations” for the annexation, which will put about 30 percent of the West Bank under Israeli control.
The exact details of the annexation plan and the borders of Israel’s new expanding territory have yet to be released.
“I know they’re working on the map, and that process could take some more time,” Elkin told Army Radio on Sunday. “July 1 is the first day when the matter can be brought to the cabinet and the Knesset. It could possibly take a few more days or weeks, but generally, I think the prime minister is very clear that he intends to advance this.”
Gantz stressed the importance of Israel maintaining ties with its neighbors.
“Striving for peace while maintaining security is foundational,” he said.
The annexation will be coordinated with the United States and is a part of President Donald Trump’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.
The deal calls for the creation of a Palestinian state, but the entire plan was rejected by the Palestinians before it was released.
Netanyahu and Gantz reportedly held separate talks on Monday with top US officials about the annexation plan.
Netanyahu held a conference call with Senior Advisor Jared Kushner, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer, and the White House’s envoy on Israeli-Palestinian matters, Avi Berkowitz.
Israel’s Channel 13 reported that the American leaders wanted to “downplay the enthusiasm” for the annexation and “greatly slow the process” while the administration deals with the COVID-19 outbreak and riots following the killing of George Floyd by a Minneapolis police officer.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas threatened to cut off all security coordination with Israel if the government moves forward with the annexation.
Security coordination has continued but to a lesser extent.
Jordan condemned the plan and said it will reconsider its relationship with the Jewish State if the annexation happens.
“We will not accept unilateral Israeli moves to annex Palestinian lands and we would be forced to review all aspects of our relations with Israel,” Prime Minister Omar al-Razzaz said last month.
The international community has also warned Israel against annexation.
Meanwhile, Israelis are split over the decision. A survey released by the Israel Democracy Institute earlier this month found that just over half of Jewish Israelis (52 percent) support Netanyahu’s plan. Only 32 percent believe it will happen.