(JTA) – Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he will not support the annexation of West Bank territory that is home to “many Palestinian residents,” an Israeli TV station reported. Gantz addressed the issue of annexation on Thursday, June 18, at a meeting of defense officials, according to Channel 12. Its report did not identify who attended the meeting. “I am sure that the prime minister will not jeopardize the peace agreement with Jordan and Israel’s strategic relationship with the U.S. in an irresponsible move,” Gantz said, according to the report. “Prior to any measure, we will make sure all professionals voice their opinion, and in any scenario, we will not support applying sovereignty to areas with a Palestinian population in order to prevent friction.”
U.S. officials have indicated that they will support Israel’s West Bank annexation moves if both Netanyahu and Gantz, who holds the title of prime minister-designate, are in agreement on the territory that will be brought under Israel’s sovereignty.
Netanyahu and Gantz have met several times this week to discuss the annexation, which is allowed by the Trump peace plan starting from July 1. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was present at some of those meetings.
Gantz reportedly did not see a map for any of the possible scenarios until Wednesday, according to Channel 12.
According to an unnamed senior government official, Gantz is not in favor of annexation being a unilateral Israeli move, preferring a broader political process in which both sides benefit.
Main Photo: Benny Gantz speaks to the media in the Israeli West Bank settlement of Vered Yericho, Jan. 21, 2020. (Amir Levy/Getty Images)