Netanyahu, Facing Tough Israel Election, Pledges to Annex Much of West Bank


“These are unilateral moves endangering Israel as a Jewish and democratic state and further limiting the possibility of a two-state solution,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a statement. “Such serious pronouncements don’t belong in the final week of a heated campaign.”

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In Israel, nearly half of Jewish Israelis have said they would favor annexation if it were supported by the Trump administration, one recent poll found. Fewer than three in 10 said they were opposed.

Settler groups welcomed Mr. Netanyahu’s call for a mandate to annex territory, but they too were dubious. “The true test will be in actions, not announcements,” Regavim, a pro-settlement group that fights Palestinian construction on the West Bank, said in a statement.

Yamina, the right-wing party led by Mr. Netanyahu’s former justice minister, Ayelet Shaked, challenged Mr. Netanyahu to bring his annexation plan before the current government within hours, “otherwise everyone in Israel will know this is nothing but a cheap political spin.”

The election on Tuesday is taking place because Mr. Netanyahu failed to form a governing coalition after the April ballot when a onetime ally, Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, refused to join him.

Mr. Lieberman mocked Mr. Netanyahu’s announcement afterward in a two-word tweet alluding to how it had been advertised: “Dramatic statement,” he said, adding two emojis showing tears of laughter.

Advocates of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict, who have been warning that annexation would ultimately be disastrous for Israel, said Tuesday that a move like the one Mr. Netanyahu was proposing could be enough to drive the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank, either to abandon its security cooperation with Israel on the West Bank or to fold up its tents altogether.



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