Israel postpones controversial West Bank annexation

Israel has postponed its controversial plan to annex portions of the West Bank, the country’s regional cooperation minister said Wednesday. Annexation “will certainly happen in July,” but it has to be done in partnership with the US, Ofir Akunis told Army Radio. The annexation “will only happen after a declaration by [US President Donald] Trump,” he added.

The annexation was scheduled to be declared by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday. However, uncertainty surrounds Netanyahu's position in light of widespread international rejection to the plan along with differences with the US administration on its application.

In 2017, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and in 2019, the Golan Heights as belonging to Israel, both announcements met with worldwide criticism.

Encouraged by Trump’s so-called “Deal of the Century” proposal, this May Netanyahu announced that Israel would formally annex the Jordan Valley and all settlement blocs in the West Bank.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is viewed as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there – as well as the planned annexation – illegal.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with annexation, which would further undermine a two-state solution.

The international community do not recognize Israel’s sovereignty over the territories it has occupied since 1967.

The German parliament on Wednesday expressed its strong opposition to Israeli plans to annex parts of the West Bank. Speaking at the German parliament in the capital Berlin, German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas warned that the Israeli move would threaten the stability of the entire Middle East.

"Peace cannot be reached through one-sided steps," the minister said.

With the exception of the far-right Alternative for Germany (AfD) party, all other parliamentary factions warned against the Israeli plan, saying it would seriously endanger a two-state solution.

The German foreign minister has vowed to put the issue on top of the agenda as Berlin has assumed yestdday the six-month rotating European Union presidency as well as chairing the month-long UN Security Council. Maas called on Israel to reconsider such plans, saying it was still possible to use "the opportunity and the time window" before a likely annexation.

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