Gantz tells Israeli Army to step up preparations in West Bank ahead of possible annexation

Defense Minister Benny Gantz attends a cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on May 24, 2020.

(CNN)Israel's Defense Minister Benny Gantz has told the army to step up preparations in parts of the West Bank, heightening the sense the government stands ready to make a possible dramatic announcement on annexation in the next few weeks.

In a statement Monday afternoon, Gantz said he had instructed the head of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) "to accelerate [its] preparations ahead of political steps on the agenda in the Palestinian arena."
That language is widely understood as an instruction to the IDF to prepare for possible widespread violence by Palestinians, as well as other possible regional ramifications, if Israel moves to annex some of the occupied territory.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu campaigned in all three recent elections on a promise to extend the reach of Israeli sovereignty into parts of the West Bank, land captured by Israel in 1967.
    That pledge was given full US backing in January when President Donald Trump unveiled his administration's plan for the Middle East, which envisages Israel annexing all Jewish settlements in the territory as well as the Jordan Valley.