On 28 January 2020, the Trump Administration published its peace plan for the Middle East. Among its more controversial proposals is a land swap between Israel and the Palestinians. This would require Israel to annex land currently occupied by settlements in the West Bank. The Israeli Government plans to begin discussions in the Cabinet from 1 July.

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The proposed annexation

Over 600,000 Israelis now live in settlements in the West Bank. The US peace plan would give Israel sovereignty over the settlements there as well as land in the Jordan Valley. The area amounts to approximately 30 percent of the West Bank.

In return, the Palestinians will gain territory elsewhere; mainly in the desert along the border with Egypt. Areas that don’t share a border would be connected by roads, bridges and tunnels.

Israeli politics

The proposed annexation takes place during a period of turmoil in Israeli politics, with three inconclusive general elections in less than a year. Prime Minister Netanyahu is reported to be still planning to press ahead with annexation plans. Benny Gantz, currently Defence Minister, has ordered the military to start preparations for the annexation.

Palestinian views

The Palestinian Authority (PA) rejected the US peace plan before it was published. Similarly, Hamas officials in Gaza opposed the plan. On 20 May, the PA declared an end to cooperation with Israel.

International responses

Regional responses have been mixed, with a few offering qualified support and others opposing the plan outright. The UN has called on Israel to abandon the threat of annexation and for the Palestinian leadership to re-engage with the Middle East Quartet.

UK Government response

The Government continues to oppose unilateral annexation but supports efforts by the US towards peace in the region.

  • Commons Research Briefing CBP-8937
  • Author: Anna Dickson
  • Topics: Middle East

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