Three days before Israelis head to vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that if victorious, he will extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank, a demand long sought by Israel’s extreme right-wing settler movement.
Netanyahu, in a tight race for reelection to a fourth consecutive term, has until now resisted demands which would end any possibility of a negotiated settlement with the Palestinian Authority, which sees the land as a major part of a future Palestinian state. The international community would judge any such move as a flagrant violation of international law that prohibits the annexation of land seized in war. Following the end of the British Mandate, Jordan won the West Bank during the 1948 war that saw the founding of Israel. Its annexation of the land in 1950 was recognized only by Iraq, Pakistan and the United Kingdom. Israel has settled about 400,000 Jews in West Bank settlements, with another 200,000 living in East Jerusalem. There are about 2.5 million Palestinians living in the West Bank.Palestinians want to establish a state in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip. He was asked during an interview on Israeli TV why he had not extended Israeli sovereignty to large settlements in the West Bank.
“You are asking whether we are moving on to the next stage – the answer is yes, we will move to the next stage,” he said.
What is the situation of peace negotiations?
Mr Trump’s administration is preparing to unveil a long-awaited Middle East peace plan, which US officials say will be fair.
However the Trump administration has carried out a series of actions that have inflamed Palestinian opinion and generally pleased Israel. In 2017 Mr Trump announced that the US recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, overturning decades of official US policy. In response Mr Abbas cut off relations with the US, saying the US could no longer be a peace broker. Last year the US stopped contributing to the UN Relief and Works Agency (Unrwa), which has been looking after Palestinian refugees since 1949. In March President Trump officially recognised Israeil sovereignty over the occupied Golan Heights. Speaking at a meeting of the Republican Jewish Coalition, he warned a Democratic victory in 2020 could “leave Israel out there”, in an effort to make the case to Jewish voters to support his re-election. Peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians have been at a standstill since 2014, when a US-brokered attempt to reach a deal collapsed.