The Israeli leader told Zionist Evangelicals that Israel will move to take over the Palestinian territory within months.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is confident that Israel will annex the occupied West Bank in the near future.
The right-wing Israeli leader told an online meeting of Christian Zionists that such a move was a matter of “months” away.
“I’m confident that that pledge will be honoured, that we will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” Netanyahu said regarding the Palestinian territory, which was captured by Israel in 1967 and has been illegally occupied by it since.
Home to more than 2.3 million Palestinians, the territory is also home to more than 389,000 Jewish settlers, who live in land appropriated from Palestinians.
Israel has refused to budge on the issue of their presence in occupied territory, long claiming the land as an integral part of the Israeli state, which it calls Judea and Samaria.
US support for formalising Israel’s occupation of Arab land has strengthened since the 2016 election of US President Donald Trump.
Despite opposition internationally, the Republican leader recognised Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017, formalising its control over occupied East Jerusalem.
In March 2019, Trump also recognised Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, which is occupied territory that legally belongs to Syria.
While the US and some of its allies have enthusiastically supported Netanyahu’s annexation campaign, other Western countries have been deeply critical.
France, for example, has threatened to review the nature of its ties with Israel if it pursues the annexation of the West Bank.
The country’s ambassador to the UN, Nicolas de Riviere, told the UN Security Council on Thursday that the EU does not recognise Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.
Any move to annex the Palestinian territory “would constitute a blatant violation of international law, which strictly prohibits the acquisition by force of occupied territories,” de Riviere said, adding:
“Such steps if implemented would not pass unchallenged and shall not be overlooked in our relationship with Israel.”
Netanyahu enjoys strong political support across the US political spectrum, counting both Trump and the presumptive Democrat presidential nominee, Joe Biden, among his supporters.
Trump, however, has gone further than any US president before him by moving the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, as well as the move on Golan.
While there is no sign that Biden would reverse that move, it is unlikely he would risk the ire of the progressives he needs to win in November if he accepted any Israeli move to annex more Palestinian territory.
With the possibility that Trump might lose the presidential election, the window for Netanyahu to pull off the annexation of the West Bank without angering the US is closing.
The Israeli leader will also benefit from the recent establishment of a coalition government with his archrival Benny Gantz.
By burying the hatchet with the anti-Netanyahu camp within Israel, Netanyahu is free to move ahead with the annexation plans without domestic distractions to his own rule.
However, doing so would be the final nail in the coffin for the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, effectively denying Palestinians a contiguous territory in which to form such an entity.
Trump’s attempt at getting Palestinians to agree to a peace plan that would largely formalise the status quo has been roundly rejected by Palestinians of all persuasions.