By Simcha Abir
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s West Bank annexation plans are on hold due to the spike in coronavirus cases in Israel.
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz backed sovereignty moves in Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley for the beginning of this month but media outlets haver now reported “close to zero” cabinet-level discussions since the July 1 deadline.
With no ‘green light’ from U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration forthcoming at the moment, as White House officials also battle the deadly virus, Israeli moves in the West Bank is an aspiration rather than a short-term goal.
The Palestinians have rejected Trump’s deal of the century, global nations have also called on Israel to relent so a stand-off is the current situation.
Aside from the pandemic, unemployment in Israel is now a record 21%. Anti-government protests have also taken place.
Netanyahu’s office said it had “no updates at this time.”
“It’s a matter of right plan, wrong time,” a senior Blue & White minister reportedly said.
“We are in the middle of the biggest crisis Israel has seen in decades and it would be irresponsible and insensitive to tend to anything else at the moment.”
Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin reportedly told Army Radio that the U.S. “is not listening” at the moment, whilst Kan public broadcasting reported that the US had introduced new conditions for support to tempt the Palestinian Authority back to negotiations.
Jordan’s King Abdullah, meantime, has warned of damaged peace talks if Israel annexes West Bank territory.
And he took the opportunity to remind Netanyahu of his nations’ stance in a virtual meeting with the British Foreign and Defense parliamentary committee according to Al Husseiniya Palace.
“Any unilateral Israeli measure to annex lands in the West Bank is unacceptable, as it would undermine the prospects of achieving peace and stability in the Middle East,” he reportedly said.
There is pressure though for Netanyahu to move forward with his long-held proposals.
The Land of Israel Caucus proposed a law to the Knesset on Monday.
The proposal has support from a number of Likud members, including MK Haim Katz.
Katz reportedly said, “The time for sovereignty has already arrived for some time. I hope Israel will be wise enough to exploit this window of opportunity with the Americans.
“The longer we delay, the reality on the ground will become more complicated.”
Yemina’s Bezalel Smotrich, Caucus co-chairman, added, “It was a few years ago that our lobby put the sovereignty law on the Knesset table and made the issue one of the main ones on the agenda of Israeli governments. Unfortunately, the government’s promises of sovereignty have not been fulfilled so far.”