Gantz tells army to step up preparations, as West Bank annexation looms

Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday ordered IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi to “step up preparations for the Israel Defense Forces,” ahead of a government proposal to annex portions of the West Bank, his office said.

The military has roughly one month to complete preparations ahead of the government’s plan to extend Israeli sovereignty to settlements and the Jordan Valley — some 30 percent of the West Bank — which many defense analysts and officials have warned could lead to an outbreak of Palestinian violence, as well as threaten Jerusalem’s ties with its neighbor Jordan and other Arab countries.

Gantz himself is believed to oppose unilateral annexation, but his coalition deal with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allows the latter to push forward with the plan from July 1, so long as he can secure approval from the Knesset — where he is almost guaranteed a majority — and from the United States.


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