Ex-IDF Officers Meet Netanyahu, Express Support for Annexation

The Associated Press
The Associated Press

TEL AVIV – Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met with a group of former IDF officials Monday who expressed their support for Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley, saying failure to do so would constitute an “existential threat” for the Jewish state.

Brig. Gen. (res) Amir Avivi, who is the head of Bithonistim — a group of high ranking IDF officers that describes itself as advancing Israel’s national security interests — thanked Netanyahu for his “heroic battle” in advancing plans to apply Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the West Bank and the Jordan Valley.

Avivi also noted Netanyahu’s role in the Trump administration’s peace plan for solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and said the proposal was a “huge opportunity that will ensure Israel will forever enjoy a defensible border along the Jordan Valley.”

The so-called “vision for peace” sees Israel annexing 30 percent of the West Bank and the Jordan Valley. It also delineates a demilitarized Palestinian state established on most of the West Bank with parts of eastern Jerusalem that are outside the Israeli security fence as its capital.

According to Avivi, full security control of the West Bank is essential in preventing the emergence of a Hamas-type model in the Palestinian Authority-run West Bank.

This is “achieved by massive Jewish presence and towns ensuring Israel will thrive for generations to come,” Avivi said.

Maj General Itzhak Jerry Gershon, one of Bithonistim’s members also present at the meeting, said the plans to apply Israeli law and Trump’s peace plan marked one of the “most crucial moments” in Israel’s history.

He pledged the group’s backing in ensuring the “paradigm shift” needed to secure Israel’s security is advanced to the forefront of the national agenda.

According to Avivi, applying Israeli sovereignty will benefit both Israelis and Palestinians economically, through the construction of new roads, towns and industry.

Netanyahu still doesn’t have a consensus within his coalition as to how or when annexation should take place. According to the coalition deal struck with Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz, the measure can be advanced as early as July 1.

However, there are still differences of opinion with the U.S. on the matter, with American officials saying nothing can go ahead before a mapping committee has finished contouring the territory, something that could take many weeks or even months.

Earlier this month, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Shtayyeh warned that if Israel goes ahead with the plans, the Palestinians would unilaterally declare a state based on the pre-1967 lines.


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