In 2019, weeks before the Israeli legislative election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had stated that he had plans to annex the Israeli settlements in the West Bank. Months later, in September, Netanyahu said that his government was considering annexing the Jordan Valley if he were to be re-elected.
These annexation plans have been extremely controversial because it would mean Israel unilaterally declaring sovereignty over parts of occupied Palestinian territory in the West Bank. Such moves by Netanyahu are also contrary to the two-state solution and have the potential to trigger further conflict in the region.
Where is West Bank?
The West Bank is located on the west bank of the Jordan River and is bounded by Israel on the north, west and south. On the east of this river lies Jordan.
Since the Six-Day War in 1967, also known as the Third Arab-Israeli War, the West Bank has been occupied by Israel.
Both Israelis and Palestinians assert their rights to the territory of the West Bank and its disputed status and the conflict has not been resolved as yet.
The Palestinians who live in the West Bank live under Israeli military rule, as well as limited self-rule. Also present in the West Bank are some 132 Israeli settlements and 124 unauthorised settlements, along with military outposts.
While the Israeli government and the US under the Trump presidency have insisted that these settlements are legal, the larger international community does not believe so and considers these settlements to be illegal under the provisions of international law.
What does this annexation mean?
Netanyahu has claimed that his plans do not involve an annexation of the West Bank. However, it would mean enforcing Israeli sovereignty over Israeli settlements and a significant chunk of land in the Jordan Valley, an area near the Jordanian border; approximately 30% of total land in the West Bank. The Palestinians believe that the annexation would prevent their access to essential water resources and key agricultural land, particularly in the Jordan Valley.
In the West Bank, Palestinians are only subject to Israeli military rules and their own Palestinian laws. Observers say the annexation will largely impact the establishment of settlements and other Israeli construction in the area that has been a long-standing bone of contention between the Israelis and the Palestinians.