Israel’s Gantz says date for West Bank annexation talks ‘not sacred’

Israeli alternate Prime Minister and Defence Minister Benny Gantz attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem while wearing a protective mask due to the COVID-19 pandemic, on June 7, 2020. (File/AFP)
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Updated 29 June 2020

Israel’s Gantz says date for West Bank annexation talks ‘not sacred’

  • Washington wants Gantz on board for the plan, which envisages Israel annexing Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley
  • Netanyahu and Gantz had agreed in a deal under which they formed a coalition government last month that a cabinet debate on annexation could begin as of July 1

JERUSALEM: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s top coalition partner Benny Gantz said on Monday that a July 1 target date to begin discussing proposed annexation of occupied West Bank land was “not sacred,” a source in Gantz’s party said.
The remarks, which the source said Gantz made during a meeting with US Ambassador David Friedman and White House adviser Avi Berkowitz, threw doubt on prospects for a unified Israeli approach to President Donald Trump’s peace plan.
Washington wants Gantz on board for the plan, which envisages Israel annexing Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, and a Palestinian state established under strict conditions elsewhere in the West Bank.
With the Palestinians boycotting the plan, however, Netanyahu and Gantz had agreed in a deal under which they formed a coalition government last month that a cabinet debate on annexation could begin as of July 1.
“Gantz made clear in the meeting that July 1 is not a sacred date” and voiced preference for Israel dealing with the economic ravages of the coronavirus crisis, a source in his centrist Blue and White party said.
Briefing reporters last week, Gantz — who serves as Israel’s defense minister, as well as alternate prime minister — predicted that the coronavirus crisis could last 18 months.
Hailing the Trump plan as an “historic move,” Gantz told the US envoys that it should be advanced “with strategic partners in the region and with the Palestinians, and to reach an arrangement that benefits all side,” the source said.
The US embassy spokeswoman could not immediately be reached for comment.


Iran’s hard-line lawmakers move to summon Rouhani — Tasnim

Updated 49 min 5 sec ago

Iran’s hard-line lawmakers move to summon Rouhani — Tasnim

DUBAI: Iran’s hard-line lawmakers plan to summon the president for questioning, a move that could ultimately lead to impeachment, media reported on Monday, amid growing discontent over the government’s economic policies.
Iranians’ daily struggle to make ends meet has become harder since the reimposition of US sanctions in 2018, and the economy has been further damaged by rising inflation, growing unemployment, a slump in the rial and the coronavirus crisis.
A motion to question President Hassan Rouhani was signed by 120 lawmakers out of 290 and handed to the presiding board of the assembly, Iran’s semi-official Tasnim news agency reported. To take effect, the motion must be passed to the president by the presiding board.
However, analysts say the board might hold back from issuing the summons, mindful that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Iran’s top authority, has called for unity among the branches of authority at a time when Iran faces mounting US pressure.
A move by parliament to question Rouhani’s predecessor was blocked by a rare intervention by Khamenei.
“The lawmakers have various questions for the president, including the reasons behind the foreign exchange market crisis as well as the high prices of basic goods and basic necessities of the people today,” Tasnim quoted Tehran lawmaker Eqbal Shakeri as saying.
Defying central bank attempts to revive its value, Iran’s rial currency has continued to fall against the US dollar on the unofficial market since April.
First elected in a landslide in 2013 and reelected in 2017, Rouhani opened the door to nuclear diplomacy with six major powers.