Photo Credit: Olivier Fitoussi / Flash 90
Minister Of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on June 10, 2020.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu continues to promise Israel will extend sovereignty to “all” of her Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley, leaving “no one” behind, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi is broadcasting another message entirely.

Israel’s Kan News public broadcasting network this week quoted Ashkenazi, a member of the Blue & White faction, as saying “I assume there won’t be annexation in the Jordan Valley; everyone understands that.”

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As far back as January this year, Netanyahu vowed to annex not only the Jordan Valley but also all of the Israeli communities located in Judea and Samaria. In an address at Jerusalem’s International Convention Center, Netanyahu said that if he won the upcoming elections his government would “immediately” extend Israeli sovereignty over all Israeli communities “without exception.”

Earlier this month, sources said Netanyahu told leaders of communities in Judea and Samaria that he still intends to annex all Israeli communities in those territories on July 1, the date that was the earliest allowed by his coalition agreements with the Blue & White faction. There appeared to be some question about whether in fact Israeli communities in the Jordan Valley would be on the same schedule, due to mapping issues involving the Israeli-US peace team.

None of which quite explains the unilateral, different messaging from the Foreign Minister, whose task usually is to represent the views of the government in which he or she sits.

According to a statement sent Wednesday from Ashkenazi’s office in response to a query from the Independent Media Review and Analysis (IMRA) media watchdog group, “Minister Ashkenazi is committed to promoting the Trump program out of a desire to cause that the conclusion of the process will bring the separation from the Palestinians.

“Minister Ashkenazi made it clear that he will only support a process which is advanced responsibly in full coordination with the United States and in dialogue with neighboring countries, while honoring existing and future peace agreements and Israel’s strategic and security interests.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Wednesday, however, that it is up to Israel to make its own decisions on whether to extend sovereignty to her communities.

Speaking with journalists at a briefing, Pompeo said the sovereignty issue is a decision “for Israelis to make.”

Top While House officials and members of the Trump Middle East peace team met this week to decide whether to give Israel the green light for “annexation” in view of the intense opposition to the plan from Arab allies to the United States, and the Palestinian Authority.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.