Netanyahu Seeks Trump’s Go-ahead for Israel’s West Bank Annexation before Election

Donald Trump (L) and Benjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: via AJE)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is pushing US President Donald Trump to give the go-ahead for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank before the country’s upcoming general election.

Officials in the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office told the Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language site on Sunday that Netanyahu is seeking a public declaration from President Trump in support of Israel’s annexation of “Area C” of the occupied West Bank, where the majority of its some 500 illegal settlements are located.

Netanyahu is pushing for President Trump to issue such a declaration before Israel’s general election on 17 September in a bid to secure his Likud party’s victory and therefore his re-election as prime minister.

The revelation has angered the Palestinian Authority (PA), with the spokesman for President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rudeineh, yesterday slamming the planned declaration as “playing with fire”.

“This step would neither establish any right [to Israel in the West Bank], nor it will create a viable false reality,” Abu Rudeineh stressed, adding that any decision which affects Palestinian national rights and violates international resolutions will be considered “illegitimate”.

For its part, the White House has declined to comment on the allegations.

Domestically the timing of Netanyahu’s bid is no coincidence. Much like the US President’s recognition of Israeli “sovereignty” in the Golan Heights shortly before the country’s April election, should the latest announcement go ahead it will be seen as a “gift” to Netanyahu’s re-election bid.

It will also give Netanyahu a chance to fulfill his previous promise to annex Area C if he is re-elected as prime minister. Netanyahu’s pre-April election promise was seen as a bid to “cannibalize” smaller right-wing parties, which have used annexation as their unique selling point, and therefore secure support for his Likud party.

His strategy succeeded, with Likud winning 35 seats and long-time rivals Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked’s party failing to cross the minimum electoral threshold.

However, Netanyahu’s strategy backfired when in May he failed to form a ruling coalition and was subsequently forced to call a do-over election for September. With the latest polls once again showing Netanyahu could struggle to form a government and that Shaked’s new party Yemina – formerly known as the United Right – could gain as many as 11 seats, an announcement by President Trump could play into Netanyahu’s campaign message that he has “got things done” and thus save his re-election bid.

(Middle East Monitor, PC, Social Media)

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