Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he is “confident” Israel will be able to annex parts of the West Bank within a few months with backing from the Trump administration.
“We will be able to celebrate another historic moment in the history of Zionism,” Netanyahu told a group of European evangelical Christians who strongly back Israel. He spoke to the group via video Sunday.
Israel plans to declare sovereignty over the strategically vital Jordan Valley and to all Jewish settlements in the West Bank. Israel has occupied the West Bank since capturing it in the Six Day War in 1967.
U.S. President Donald Trump gave his backing to the Israeli annexation when he unveiled details of his Middle East peace plan in January, approving giving what Netanyahu calls a “buffer zone” against terrorists.
About 500,000 Jews live in settlements in the West Bank – many of them Americans who emigrated to what they insist is their rightful biblical home.
There has been no reaction from the Palestinians so far to Netanyahu’s address Sunday, but they have already declared Trump’s peace plan dead.
The Palestinians want the West Bank for an independent state with east Jerusalem as its capital. The Trump peace plan includes a Palestinian state, but one that comes with numerous conditions.
U.N. and European Union officials have warned against Israeli annexation of the West Bank, calling it illegal and a move that would set off a powder keg across the Middle East.