Netanyahu says US 'busy with other things' as frustration grows over stalled annexation
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has voiced his frustration at the United States' reluctance to approve Israel's stalled plans to annex parts of the West Bank.
Despite setting 1 July as the date Israel would begin formally taking over Palestinian areas seized in 1967, there have been no formal moves towards the pledged annexation.
"It was clear from the start that the application of sovereignty would be done only with agreement from the United States. Otherwise, I would have already done it a while ago," Netanyahu told Israel’s Channel 20.
The Israeli leader added that US President Donald Trump is currently "busy with other things" and that “issues of importance to Israel" were not at the top of his agenda.
Speaking to fellow Likud party politicians in this week's faction meeting, Netanyahu insisted that annexation is "not off the table" and that the "issue of applying sovereignty is in Washington."
The Israeli leader's remarks appear to echo a growing sense of frustration among Israeli rightwingers at the lack of progress on Netanyahu's annexation plans.
Last month, Israel's Army Radio reported Knesset Speaker and Likud member Yariv Levin stated in private conversations that Washington is not giving any attention to Israel's annexation plans.
Levin, who sits on the US-Israeli mapping committee tasked with figuring out the exact parameters for annexation, has reportedly said Netanyahu will not move forward without coordinating with the Trump administration.
According to The Times of Israel, settler leaders have responded to the Army Radio report with anger at the prospect of Israeli annexation hinging on US approval.
Israel has occupied the West Bank illegally since 1967, and commits various abuses against Palestinian civilians, human rights groups say.
More than 600,000 Israeli Jews live in settlements in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, in constructions considered illegal under international law.
Israel's plans to annex the West Bank have been denounced as an illegal violation of international law by world leaders as well as UN human rights chief, Michelle Bachelet.
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