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Netanyahu doubles down on annexation of West Bank

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gestuers supporters after speaking at a Likud Party gathering on 17 November 2019 in Tel Aviv, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tel Aviv on 17 November 2019 [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Embattled Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been his bullish self despite facing criminal charges, by declaring that he will not miss the opportunity to annex the West Bank.

Describing the move as one of the main tasks of his new government, Netanyahu said on Monday in a meeting with lawmakers from his Likud party that Israel would not miss a “historic opportunity” to extend its sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.

“We have a historic opportunity, which hasn’t existed since 1948, to apply sovereignty judiciously as a diplomatic …step in Judea and Samaria,” he said referring to the year of Israel’s creation, and using the biblical names for the West Bank.

“It is a big opportunity and we will not let it pass by,” Netanyahu added a day after the start of his corruption trial. He referred to US President Donald Trump’s peace plan dubbed the ‘deal of the century’ as support for de facto annexation.

READ: Israel political figures launch Europe drive against annexation

The international community considers Israel’s annexation of the West Bank illegal under international law. The planned annexation has triggered a backlash with major blocks like the European Union threatening to impose sanctions.

Further annexation of Palestinian territory, however, has strong backing within Israel where the views of right-wing extremists and religious fundamentalists been adopted as the country’s policy.

A recent poll has found that a vast majority of French-speaking Israelis, 90 per cent, support such a move. The same poll carried out by i24 news found that almost half, 47 per-cent of native English-speakers living in Israel backed the illegal move.

The Trump administration has green lighted the move. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, a fervent Evangelical Christian, even brushed aside established international norms by suggesting that insisting on law to be the basis for peace would not bring an end to the conflict.

“The hard truth is that there will never be a judicial resolution to the conflict, and arguments about who is right and who is wrong as a matter of international law will not bring peace,” Pompeo said in November while announcing a dramatic shift in US foreign policy.

READ: Israel envoy to US lobbies for annexation, fearing Biden victory

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