In a vote expected to worsen relations with Palestinians, Israel’s ruling Likud Party ratified a resolution approving the annexation of parts of the West Bank. The bill stipulates Israel’s legal control over portions of Palestine’s planned state and claims settlements deemed illegal by international law. Arab members of Likud have warned that the motion will collapse the two-state solution and permanently end prospects for peace in the region.
Israel’s progress toward annexation has been gradual but persistent. In January, a similar vote in the Israeli Council for Higher Education shifted the West Bank’s balance of power in Israel’s favor. The council motioned to annex Israel’s academic institutions in the West Bank and install Israeli laws in universities with highly contested land settlements.
In addition, Israel’s Ministry of Justice approved a bill that would annex Israeli settlers’ chickens by placing their production under domestic egg quotas. Yariv Levin, a Likud minister, announced, “The correct thing to do is to impose our sovereignty over all the areas of the Land of Israel.” In the coming weeks, the Likud Central Committee is expected to propose annexation of Judea, Samaria, the Jordan Valley, and Jerusalem.
Global leaders’ reactions to the annexation proposals are mixed. European leaders agree that Israel’s legislative decisions should not apply to occupied, disputed territories like the West Bank because they are inconsistent with the two-state solution. In the United States, GOP lawmakers have supported Israel’s territorial agency. President Donald Trump has voiced approval for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s security claims in the West Bank and has opposed the internationally favored two-state solution. However, the two-state solution has been part of U.S. foreign policy for decades. Following Trump’s remarks, protests erupted in occupied Palestinian territories while Muslims rallied in opposition globally.
Likud activist Natan Engelsman commented, “If the president of the United States believes Jerusalem is ours, there is no reason why a right-wing party and coalition cannot.” Engelsman noted that, while he supports Netanyahu’s recent legislation regarding the West Bank, his party seeks to push the prime minister further. “The goal is not to pressure the prime minister, because we believe he supports the initiative but cannot say so,” Engelsman told the Jerusalem Post. “Our goal is to strengthen Netanyahu, who could have stopped [the West Bank]vote[s]but made a point of letting [them]happen.”
Netanyahu has verbally condemned European nations that oppose Israel’s claims in the West Bank. Ireland recently imposed a ban on imported goods from Israeli settlements, specifically those in the West Bank, and Netanyahu fears more European nations will follow suit. However, nationalist leaders like Engelsman maintain that the Trump administration’s growing support for Israeli sovereignty will help to overcome global and regional opposition.