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Netanyahu says a Palestinian state only after several conditions met

What happened: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gave an interview to Israel Hayom that was published this morning, where he discussed elements of the Trump plan.

  • When asked if the plan includes a Palestinian state, he answered: “The process will advance if they [Palestinians] deign to fulfil about ten difficult conditions, which include Israeli sovereignty in the territories west of the Jordan, keeping Jerusalem united, the non-entry of even a single refugee, no uprooting of communities, and Israeli sovereignty on extensive swaths of Judea and Samaria, and so on and so forth. They need to recognise that we are the security sovereign in the entire territory. If they agree to all that, then they’ll have an entity of their own that President Trump defines as a state.”
  • He was asked if the Palestinians in the Jordan Valley will receive Israeli citizenship were Israel to apply its sovereignty there. He replied, “No. they’ll remain in Palestinian enclaves. You don’t annex Jericho. There are one or two clusters. You don’t need to apply sovereignty to them; they’ll remain Palestinian subjects, if you like. But Israeli security control will apply there as well.”
  • Defence Minister Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz also related to annexation during the Blue and White faction meeting yesterday, where he said, “There are major opportunities at this time with the ability to improve and even change the entire region, among them the peace plan proposed by the US administration. We will examine the various paths of action in the next few weeks with wisdom and responsibility.”  His close ally, Michael Biton, who is a minister in the Defence Ministry, told Army Radio: “There will be no irresponsible unilateral annexation that undermines the interests of the State of Israel. If anybody in this government wants to discuss annexation, that discussion will begin in July and will take place in committees, in the Knesset plenum, in the security cabinet and in the cabinet.”
  • Yesterday, the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) carried operations inside Palestinian Authority (PA) territory for the first time since the PA froze security coordination last week. They reportedly arrested seven suspects in two separate raids, without any confrontation with PA security forces.

Context: Earlier this week Maj. Gen. Kamil Abu Rukun, the IDF coordinator for Palestinian civilian affairs, warned that annexation “was likely to lead to a wave of terror attacks and a breaking of security cooperation.”

  • Various European and Arab states have publicly warned of the consequences of unilateral annexation.
  • However, according to an article published in Israel Hayom yesterday, key Arab leaders will tacitly consent to annexation, in contradiction to their public statements. The paper quotes unnamed senior Jordanian and Saudi officials who argue that their governments will prioritise its own national interests over the Palestinian issue. The paper also quote a senior Egyptian security official saying, “The United States and Israel carry a lot of weight in the fight against Iran. No Arab leader is going to risk the fabric of interests in stopping Iranian expansion for the Palestinian’s behalf.”
  • At the beginning of the week Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated his plan to apply Israeli law to settlements and the Jordan Valley on 1 July, saying: “We have a target date and we won’t change it.” However, settler leaders continue to express concern that the Trump plan will lead to the creation of a Palestinian state as well as leave numerous settlement enclaves in an untenable situation, surrounded by Palestinian areas. Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, called the plan a “poisoned chalice”.
  • Commenting in Yediot Ahronot, Elisha Ben Kimon concluded that “Netanyahu cares more about his trial than annexation, while the settlers care more about annexation that his trial”.

Looking ahead: The IDF has not yet been informed of any plans to implement annexation. Nevertheless, they are preparing for potential violence. On Monday the IDF along with the Shin Bet security service will run a simulation for various scenarios that might unfold, including the reaction by Hamas and Islamic Jihad in the Gaza Strip.

  • The IDF is not part of the US-Israel mapping committee which is due to report on the scope and depth ahead of any annexation decision. The IDF still does not know whether only the Jordan Valley is to be annexed or whether the plan is to include settlement blocs as well.

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