Israel’s chief of staff: ‘Sovereignty is at the top of IDF’s priority list’

“We are preparing for the possibility of a campaign that will transcend the borders of Judea and Samaria,” Kochavi said.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Aviv Kochavi said last week that preparations for the application of sovereignty over territories in Judea and Samaria are at the top of the IDF’s priorities, Kan Radio reported.

Speaking at the military ceremony in Jerusalem, Kochavi said the move to extend sovereignty could result in a “heating up” of the region, not only in Judea and Samaria, but also in areas beyond the territories in question.

Terrorist groups and some Arab states, especially neighboring Jordan, have threatened dire consequences if Israel goes through with its sovereignty plan.

“We are in a period that can challenge the stability of the region, and the IDF will provide protection and security in the face of any decision made by the political echelon,” Kochavi said in comments that appeared to contradict news reports that the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has for now put sovereignty efforts on the back burner.

The same day Kochavi made his comments, Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin reportedly said the U.S. “is not listening” and the Trump administration was not open to sovereignty talks at the moment.

The White House wants the annexation plan to be carried out with the agreement of Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s Blue and White party and Netanyahu’s Likud, while maintaining political stability in Israel, Kan reported.

In addition, Washington wants the plan to include significant changes in favor of the Palestinians in an attempt to bring the Palestinian Authority back to the negotiating table.

On Wednesday, Likud’s youth movement sent a letter to the prime minister urging him to carry out his promise to extend sovereignty. “This is the order of the hour, this is the demand of the people and the party, for which the Likud was chosen to lead the country,” they wrote.

On Monday, in an effort to pressure Netanyahu, the Land of Israel Caucus proposed a law in the Knesset to extend sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria. The goal of the caucus, one of the most active in Israel’s parliament, is to strengthen Israel’s hold over those territories.

Netanyahu missed a self-imposed July 1 target date for applying Israeli law to settlements in Judea and Samaria.

Just before the July 1 deadline Gantz said his top priority was dealing with the economic and health crises from the coronavirus pandemic and he had not joined a “government of annexation.”