Outgoing Defense Ministry director-general Udi Adam said Sunday that Israel cannot unilaterally annex large areas of the West Bank, and that the process requires regional cooperation, including with the Palestinians.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition government had set July 1 as the date it could begin implementing the part of the Trump administration peace proposal that allows Israel to extend sovereignty to its settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan valley, together about 30 percent of the West Bank.
But as last Wednesday’s target date came and went without any action, Netanyahu’s office said he would continue to discuss the possible annexation with the US administration.
Adam, who announced his retirement in May after working under five ministers during his four years in office, told Army Radio that “there is no practical way to do a sweeping annexation at the moment.”
Adam said that annexation needs to be done in cooperation with other countries in the region, the US, the Europeans, and “of course the Palestinians.”
Adam admitted that senior defense officials, including himself, don’t know much more about the planned annexation than has already been published in the media but said that should not be taken as an indication that there is not a plan in the works.
Adam was replaced at the ministry by former air force commander Amir Eshel.
The peace plan, unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January, calls for any annexations to come as part of a larger peace package, including negotiations on the creation of a demilitarized Palestinian state across the roughly 70% of the West Bank that won’t be annexed by Israel, with a link to Gaza — a prospect that is untenable to Palestinians and many on the Israeli right.
The Trump plan also calls for talks with the Palestinians and buy-in from Gulf Arab states that would theoretically be tasked with providing massive funds for the nascent Palestinian state’s economy.
But the US administration has sounded empathetic at times to Netanyahu’s declared plans for unilateral annexation, with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo saying repeatedly that the decision is Israel’s to make.
Trump’s plan has been entirely rejected by the Palestinians.
The US aside, the international community has voiced near-unanimous opposition against unilateral moves by Israel.
Agencies contributed to this report.