Plans by Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, to begin annexing parts of the occupied Palestinian territories from as early as Wednesday appeared in disarray as the country’s alternate prime minister, Benny Gantz, suggested annexation would have to wait while the country dealt with its coronavirus crisis.

Gantz told a White House envoy, Avi Berkowitz – who is in Israel for talks on the issue – that a 1 July deadline was neither “sacred” nor urgent in the midst of the coronavirus crisis. Israeli media widely suggested that the timing could slip beyond Wednesday.

That prompted Netanyahu to tell a private meeting of his own Likud members that the issue “was not up to” Gantz’s Blue and White party and that “discreet” contacts with the US were continuing.

Gantz’s intervention comes on top of mounting international opposition to the move and reported cooling in the Trump administration over the push to annex imminently.

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