Israel’s annexation plans explained in nine questions | Middle East Eye
The Israeli government has suggested that plans to annex parts of the occupied West Bank could be revealed from 1 July.Such a move has been condemned by Israel’s allies and rivals alike as a dangerous escalation that could destabilise the Middle East.Middle East Eye answers some key questions about what Israel is seeking to do, and what could happen next:What does the Israeli government want?Unclear. Broadly, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government has said as much as 30 percent of the West Bank could be annexed, including blocs of illegal settlements, the strategic Jordan Valley and the northern Dead Sea.Expectations that such a large-scale annexation will be announced at once should be tempered, however.Officials have hinted to the Israeli media that annexation could be applied in stages in an attempt to placate neighbouring Jordan, whose King Abdullah II warned it could lead to “massive conflict” and has reportedly refused Netanyahu’s calls.What are the possible scenarios?Several possible plans have been mooted, all of them disastrous for the Palestinians.The first would annex all of the West Bank’s Area C, the part fully controlled by Israel under the Oslo Accords. That would include all illegal settlements, which hold some 400,000 Israeli settlers, and the Jordan Valley.A second plan would see only the Jordan Valley claimed by Israel. Resource rich and highly strategic, the Jordan Valley currently holds 56,000 Palestinians and 11,000 Israeli settlers.In the third scenario, Israel would annex the major settlement blocs of Maale Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion, which together have a population of around 85,000 Israelis. Maale Adumim sprawls between occupied East Jerusalem and the West Bank, Gush Etzion lies over the holy Palestinian city of Bethlehem and Ariel sits in the middle of the territory, overlooking Nablus.Annexation of these areas would sever many parts of the West Bank from Jerusalem and Bethlehem, and create Israeli enclaves in the heart of any future Palestinian state.The third option is currently the most likely.