Netanyahu’s sovereignty plan on ice, US ‘is not listening’ now

Netanyahu’s promise to apply sovereignty seems to be growing further away. 

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Sovereignty plans have been halted, at least for now, said the head of Israel’s delegation negotiating the plan with the U.S. on Tuesday.

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin made the comments in a closed-door meeting, reports Army Radio. He said the U.S. “is not listening” and not open to sovereignty talks at the moment, according to the report.

On Sunday, Kan public broadcasting reported that the U.S. introduced new conditions to its support for sovereignty, requiring first the agreement of Likud’s coalition partner in the unity government, the Blue and White party. The report also said that the U.S. wants concessions from Israel to use as a carrot to entice the Palestinian Authority to the negotiating table.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to extend sovereignty on the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria in September 2019, before the second of what would be three back-to-back elections. He included a clause in the unity government deal allowing him to push legislation forward on the matter starting on July 1. However, the date came and went without action. The government has said it won’t move forward without U.S. backing.

In a challenge to Netanyahu, the Land of Israel Caucus proposed a law in the Knesset on Monday 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.

The proposal, which has the support of some Likud party members, including the head of the caucus, MK Haim Katz, would also prevent land grabs in Area C by the Palestinian Authority, which has been trying to create facts on the ground through illegal building and farming, often supported by European funds.

Katz said, “The time for sovereignty has already arrived for some time. I hope Israel will be wise enough to exploit this window of opportunity with the Americans… The longer we delay, the reality on the ground will become more complicated.”

Caucus Co-Chairman Bezalel Smotrich of the Yemina party said, “It was a few years ago that our lobby put the sovereignty law on the Knesset table and made the issue one of the main ones on the agenda of Israeli governments. Unfortunately, the government’s promises of sovereignty have not been fulfilled so far.”