Knesset speaker vows to 'fast-track' West Bank annexation vote

Israel's Knesset speaker vows to 'fast-track' West Bank annexation vote
2 min read
30 January, 2020
Trump's peace plan offers US approval for Israel to annex the strategically crucial Jordan Valley, which accounts for around 30 percent of the West Bank.
Trump's peace plan green lights the annexation of the West Bank's Jordan Valley. [Getty]

The speaker of Israel's parliament has promised to "fast-track" a bill to annex parts of the occupied West Bank following the release of US President Donald Trump's controversial peace plan.

The plan, drafted with no Palestinian input, was unveiled on Tuesday after a three-year wait.

Trump's initiative offers US approval for Israel to annex the strategically crucial Jordan Valley, which accounts for around 30 percent of the West Bank, as well as other Jewish settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

On Tuesday, US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel was free to begin annexing West Bank settlements, considered illegal under international law, straight away.

He later clarified that an Israeli-American committee would first be established before Israel can go ahead with any such plans.

"If you return from Washington and ask to convene the Knesset plenum to make use of the US administration's historic willingness and apply Israeli sovereignty over Judea and Samaria - I will convene the plenum immediately," speaker of the Israeli Knesset Yuli Edelstein said on Wednesday, addressing Benjamin Netanyahu.

Read more: The 5 most outrageous proposals in Trump's bizarre 'Deal of the Century'

His comments come amid media reports that Israel's caretaker cabinet could convene on Tuesday to vote on an annexation plan.

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The cabinet vote was originally scheduled for Sunday, but was put on hold to explore the legal ramifications and to coordinate it with the United States.

Hard-line Israeli nationalists have called for the immediate annexation of West Bank settlements ahead of the March 2 elections, the third in less than a year.

They have eagerly embraced the part of the plan that would allow Israel to annex territory but have rejected its call for a Palestinian state.

The plan put forth by Trump is the most generous and detailed proposal ever offered to Israel, and is a hit among Netanyahu's right-wing base as well as Trump's evangelical Christian supporters in the United States.

Israel has occupied the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip since 1967.

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