Netanyahu Drops Troubled Annexation Plan for Diplomatic Gain


Amos Gilead, an Israeli security expert who once served as an unofficial emissary to the Emirates, said he welcomed any steps toward normalization but would need to be convinced. “I’m not sure the U.A.E. as I know them will open an embassy in Tel Aviv,” he said. “I want to see it with my eyes.”

Whatever comes of the more grandiose possibilities sketched out by Mr. Trump in the Oval Office, flanked by his Middle East team, and by Mr. Netanyahu in a swaggering solo news conference two hours later, the immediate benefit for all three parties involved was clear: It allowed them to change the subject.

“This is all about Trump being able to say, ‘Look what a great dealmaker I am, I’ve brought peace to the Middle East,’ and about Bibi being able to distract Israelis for a few hours,” said Anshel Pfeffer, a biographer of Mr. Netanyahu, referring to him by his nickname. Mr. Pfeffer had boldly predicted in May that the prime minister would never fulfill his annexation pledges.

For Mr. Netanyahu, the diplomatic coup came as a throwback of sorts to a time before the coronavirus, before he required three elections to defeat a political novice and form a gov

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