Will sovereignty be applied over Judea and Samaria? Unity deal brings hope

Likud officials say the most meaningful outcome of the unity agreement will be the extension of sovereignty over parts of Israel’s historic homeland.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

After a political crisis that lasted a year and a half, three election cycles and a roller-coaster ride of negotiations, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Blue and White leader Benny Gantz agreed to form a government on Monday evening. Likud officials say the most important result will be the application of sovereignty in areas long-claimed by Israel.

“In less than two months there will be here the application of sovereignty,” Likud sources said. “It’s a historic step in the annals of the State of Israel. It’s an achievement for the generations.”

According to the agreement, in the first two months of its term, the unity government will try to enlist international support for applying sovereignty to areas of Judea and Samaria and the Jordan Valley. Such support was a condition of Gantz.

However, with or without international acquiescence, starting on July 1 the Likud can bring to the cabinet or the Knesset a vote on  sovereignty.

The issue of sovereignty was a major sticking point in the negotiations. Netanyahu had wanted to lock in Blue and White’s approval for a specific timetable within the coalition agreement. Gantz said he wanted to deal with this issue only after the end of the coronavirus crisis.

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Netanyahu says Israel faces a unique window of opportunity to apply sovereignty as part of President Donald Trump’s “deal of the century.” The U.S. administration’s Mideast peace plan, unlike others that came before it, doesn’t require Israel to first make concessions to the Palestinian side. Under the agreement, Israel can annex areas at the start.

At the unveiling of the peace plan at the White House in January, Netanyahu said past peace plans failed because they didn’t “strike the right balance” between Israel’s national and security interests and Palestinian aspirations.

Trump’s plan, he said, addressed Israel’s security by “recognizing Israel’s sovereignty over all the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria, large and small alike.”

Netanyahu promised before the elections in September and March that he would apply sovereignty on the areas in question.