Benjamin Netanyahu’s playing the security card in an effort to stay in power. Six months as premier in a national unity government will be enough for him to annex a large swath of the West Bank… and become immune from prosecution.
The Jordan Valley, the eastern part of West Bank bordering Jordan, was targeted by Netanyahu in September ahead of Israel’s second general election this year. The embattled prime minister promised that, if he stays in power, he would annex the area as Israel’s sovereign land, because that’s what is needed for national security.
How big an impact his pledge made is not clear, but Netanyahu’s Likud party ended up almost tied with the Blue and White party of Benny Gantz. The outcome was just as inconclusive as the one from April’s election, and the two parties have since been struggling to form a government of national unity.
On Monday Netanyahu repeated his annexation pledge, saying he’d discussed the plan to formally incorporate the Jordan Valley with US President Donald Trump during an earlier phone call. He said Israel currently has a “historic opportunity” to move its eastern border towards Jordan and called on Gantz to work harder on a coalition agreement.
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The Blue and White are fine with annexation, but it’s Netanyahu himself who stands in the way of the unity government. Gantz refused to join a government that would be headed by an indicted prime minister. Incidentally, on Monday Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit served to the Knesset a formal indictment of Netanyahu on charges of bribery, fraud and breach in three corruption cases.
According to Israel Hayom, a daily newspaper with strong ties to Likud, the party offered a deal that would keep Netanyahu in the prime minister’s chair for six months, after which he will cede it to Gantz, who in turn will vacate the office 18 months later to a nominee from Likud.
The half-year in power is, presumably, needed to enact the annexation of the Jordan Valley. Ze’ev Elkin, a leading Likud member involved in coalition negotiations,