‘No annexation decision has been made,’ says FM Gabi Ashkenazi

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According to the coalition agreement between Ashkenazi’s Blue and White party and Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can bring annexation to a vote on July 1.

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas deliver opening remarks ahead of their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi and German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas deliver opening remarks ahead of their meeting at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem

(photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

The government has not yet decided whether to extend Israel’s laws to parts of the West Bank, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said in a press conference with his German counterpart Heiko Mass on Wednesday.

Ashkenazi repeatedly cited the lack of a decision in response to questions about the details of how Israel would implement US President Donald Trump’s peace plan.

According to the coalition agreement between Ashkenazi’s Blue and White party and Likud, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu can bring annexation to a vote on July 1, in three weeks, at the earliest.

Asked about the maps being drawn to indicate which areas Israel would annex, Ashkenazi pointed out that they are not ready yet. He said the Trump plan features a conceptual map, and the US-Israel mapping committee is meant to fill in the details of exactly where each settlement ends.

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“The map is not a decision. It will be the basis for a decision we will make,” Ashkenazi said, emphasizing that he and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz are familiar with the mapping work and the territory being examined.

As for the status of Palestinians if Israel proceeds with annexation, Ashkenazi said “the plan defines the status of the residents.

The text of the plan states that Israelis remain Israeli and Palestinians would remain under the Palestinian Authority until an eventual state is established. The Trump administration’s “Vision for Peace” would create Palestinian enclaves within sovereign Israel, and Israeli enclaves in an eventual Palestinian state rather than have each side accept the other as citizens.

Despite referring to the plan, Ashkenazi remained noncommittal, saying: “We are at the beginning of discussions…No decision has been made; it’s a bit early. Once a decision has been made, we can give details.”

Ashkenazi also called for Germany to wait for the Israeli decision before responding to the possibility of annexation.

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He and Maas “didn’t discuss possible steps Germany will take” in response to annexation, he said.

“If there is a decision,” the foreign minister added, “we should do it responsibly, while maintaining Israeli interests of stability and the peace treaties, and with dialogue with the US and hopefully our neighbors.”

“It is in Israel’s interest to remain a Jewish and democratic state,” he said.

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