A confidant of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed that the Israeli plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank would not start on Wednesday as planned due to an extraordinary call by Britain for Israel to desist from the plan.
The fact raised further doubts about whether Israel will finally carry out its dangerous initiative, which has received strong condemnation from some of its strongest allies.
Speaking to army radio, Cabinet Minister Ofir Akunis confirmed that the annexation process would not begin on Wednesday and that authorities were continuing to fine-tune details with their US counterparts. He argued that the annexation would take place in the coming weeks.
“Coordination with the US government is not something that can be dismissed,” Ofir Akunis said.
Netanyahu wanted to start the process on Wednesday to carry out the annexation of the West Bank in accordance with President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan. The plan unveiled in January places 30% of the territory under permanent Israeli control and grants Palestinians limited autonomy in enclaves of the remaining land.
But the plan has received strong international criticism. The United Nations, the European Union, and important Arab countries have said that annexation violates international law and undermines the slim prospect of creating a possible Palestinian state alongside Israel.
In a front-page article in the Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, one of the most widely circulated in Israel, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote that, as a “passionate defender of Israel ,” he was deeply disturbed by Israel’s intentions. He highlighted his former ties with the country, since he volunteered in a kibbutz at age 18, and his “many visits” since then.
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“As a lifelong friend, admirer and supporter of Israel, I fear that these proposals will not meet their objective of securing Israel’s borders and will run counter to Israel’s long-term interests,” Johnson wrote, adding that the annexation “would jeopardize” the progress made in relations with the Arab world.
“I sincerely hope that annexation will not proceed. If it does, the United Kingdom will not recognize any changes to the 1967 limits other than those agreed by the two sides,” he added.