July 1 (UPI) -- Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided against starting plans Wednesday to annex parts of the West Bank, although he'd previously given July 1 as the target date to begin the controversial process.
Netanyahu has promised for months to begin the annexation process, which could place up to 30 percent of the West Bank and many major Jewish settlements under Israeli sovereignty.
Wednesday was the earliest possible day Netanyahu could begin annexing land under a governing coalition deal brokered between he and opposition leader Benny Gantz in April.
Netanyahu said there have been discussions on the issue with the United States, which proposed a Middle Eastern peace plan in January, and Israeli national security adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.
Ofir Akunis, a close Netanyahu ally, said annexation would not start Wednesday and also cited ongoing negotiations with the United States and President Donald Trump.
Akunis said the annexation process could have begun on Wednesday but there was no "completed agreement" with the United States.
The U.S. plan links Israeli sovereignty to more than 30 percent of the West Bank and designates the rest as territory for potential Palestinian statehood. Palestinian authorities have denounced the plan.
The United Nations, European Union and key Arab countries have all opposed annexation, as does the Palestinian Authority, which says it will kill any chance of establishing a viable independent state.
"As a lifelong friend, admirer and supporter of Israel, I am fearful that these proposals will fail in their objective of securing Israel's borders and will be contrary to Israel's own long-term interests," Johnson wrote.
"I profoundly hope that annexation does not go ahead," he added. "If it does, the U.K. will not recognize any changes to the 1967 lines, except those agreed between both parties."