Major West Bank annexation move not imminent: Israeli minister

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More than 100 of the world's most senior Jewish lawyers and judges have called on Israel to "follow the path of the law" and end plans to annex land earmarked for a future Palestinian state.

Although the plan does not aim to annex occupied East Jerusalem, which the Palestinian Authority sees as the capital of a future Palestinian state, the global community, including the United Nations and the European Union, have said it threatens to sabotage any peace agreement or two-state solution to the Arab-Israeli conflict.

Netanyahu and his main coalition government partner, Defence Minister Benny Gantz, are at odds over annexation, which the right-wing prime minister has promoted.

In comments to Israel's Army Radio on Wednesday, Ashkenazi cautioned that only the prime minister could clarify the timing with certainty.

Netanyahu said in a speech he had met U.S. Ambassador David Friedman and White House adviser Avi Berkowitz to discuss "the sovereignty question", adding: "We are working on it in these very days and will continue working on it in the coming days".

Akunis said coordination with the Trump administration could not be dismissed.

According to Assaf, Israel has already taken practical steps to annex the areas included in the plan, with the Jewish state allegedly building three new settlements in recent months; two near Nablus and another near Hebron. The remaining occupied territory would be left for Palestinians to govern autonomously, but without a military, control over borders or other characteristics of a sovereign state. Palestinians say the plan would deny them a viable state. He proclaimed that the illegal Israeli West Bank settlements were not illegal. The Oslo agreements of the 1990s envisioned the status of the West Bank being resolved in negotiations.

Over the past few years, Palestinian and Israeli NGOs have reported an increase in the construction of settlements in the occupied West Bank and Jewish settler-only roads that connect them with Israel.

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The worldwide criticism has so far not deterred Mr Netanyahu.

UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made a last-minute attempt to talk Israel out of taking over parts of the West Bank.

"Annexation would represent a violation of worldwide law", he said.

'I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead, ' he said. "If it does, the United Kingdom will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties", he said.

The United Nations, the European Union and Arab countries have also called on Israel to scrap its annexation plans, saying they would violate worldwide law, harm the prospect of a two-state solution, and undercut the possibilities of renewing the Middle East peace process.

"Our generation of American Jews are clearly encouraged by the progressive leadership of the members of Congress on this letter, who are modeling what it means to fight tooth and nail against annexation, and for the dignity and security of both Palestinians and Israelis", Emily Mayer, political director for IfNotNow, said in a statement.

The letter, addressed to Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, contained a strongly-worded call for a USA intervention to block the annexation of Palestinian land as championed by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

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