JERUSALEM 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will initially annex three settlement blocs in the occupied West Bank, not the Jordan Valley, Israeli officials said on Wednesday.

The officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity to Zman Yisrael, the Hebrew sister site of The Times of Israel, said Netanyahu will delay most annexation and only focus on the blocs of Ma’ale Adumim, Ariel and Gush Etzion.

The three settlement blocs are home to almost 80 percent of Israeli settler population in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu’s government plans to hold a cabinet vote next month to annex parts of the West Bank, which was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Middle East war.

The Israeli premier has repeatedly said he would annex all settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley as of July 1 under an agreement with his rival-turned alley Benny Gantz, the head of the Blue and White coalition.

Earlier this week, Netanyahu told settler leaders that non-settlement areas might be delayed and not be annexed in this time.

The West Bank, including East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, thus making all Jewish settlements there – as well as the planned annexation – illegal.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation, which will further undermine the two-state solution.

The annexation comes as part of US President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, which was announced on Jan. 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognizes Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.

The plan states the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected through bridges and tunnels.

Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30-40% of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.

*Ahmed Asmar contributed to this report from Ankara

Copyright 2020 Anadolu Agency. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.