Photo Credit: GPO/ Haim Tzach
Ambassador David Friedman with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during a tour with the mapping committee.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu found himself back-pedaling Tuesday on his campaign promise that by a July 1 deadline Israel would extend Israeli sovereignty to the nation’s Jewish communities in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

Very late Tuesday night, Netanyahu quietly told reporters after talks wrapped up with White House envoy Avi Berkowitz and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman that discussions with the United States on plans to extend Israeli law to her communities in the disputed territories would continue “in the coming days.”

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In other words, the deadline is dead. Whatever little credibility Netanyahu had left with the half million Jews living in the territories has also likely died with it.

“I spoke about the question of sovereignty, which we are working on these days and we will continue to work on in the coming days,” Netanyahu told the reporters, but gave no details on when there might be a resolution to whatever outstanding issues seem to remain.

Various media are offering myriad “unsourced” reports filled with speculation on what may be behind this turn of events and what may prompt the outcome.

The only certain element so far is the fact that Alternate Prime Minister / Defense Minister Benny Gantz does not see eye-to-eye with Netanyahu on the issue of whether to extend sovereignty at this time, and how to do so, if at all. That is not new; it is one of the issues that was at the core of the disagreement that destroyed two potential prior national unity governments and nearly destroyed the current one as well.

Netanyahu has a number of options at his disposal from which to choose, including the option of simply moving ahead after the July 1 deadline, albeit with a Knesset vote on the question, and without his alternate’s approval.

The question of President Donald Trump’s approval, however, is another matter entirely and more likely the real question on the table.

Stay tuned …

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