Trump will recognize Israeli annexation of West Bank, officials say
State Department officials said Tuesday they will recognizer size Israel’s plans to annex major areas of the West Bank, under the condition that Israel pursues peace with the Palestinians under President Trump’s “Deal of the Century.”
By Ray Hanania
President Trump will recognize Israel’s annexation of large areas of the West Bank as a part of a the Unity sharing government being formed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political election rival Benny Gantz.
Under the Unity Government agreement, Israel will annex large areas of the West Bank, but only on the condition that the Trump administration supports annexation, Israeli officials have said.
Officials at the U.S. State Department told the Arab Daily News Tuesday that Trump will recognize Israel’s annexation of the major parts of the West Bank but it is contingent on Israeli officials making efforts to negotiate a peace agreement with the Palestinians.
“We continue to pursue the path that the President set out in January when presenting the U.S. Vision for Peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” an official at the State Department said Tuesday on condition of anonymity.
“Our position has not changed. As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the Vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s Vision.”
Despite three corruption indictments and his long record of opposing peace with the Palestinians, Netanyahu and the Likud party failed to win enough seats to continue his nearly 12 year reign as Prime Minister in the last elections. Rather than seek a fourth election, Netanyahu agreed to form a Unity Government with Gantz, the Knesset Speaker and leader of Kahol Lavan.
In an agreement they reached last week, Netanyahu will serve as Prime Minister for 18 months and then turn over the office to Gantz. As a part of the agreement, Israel would also annex major areas of the West Bank by July 1, but only if the Trump Administration supports the move.
The State Department statement Tuesday gives Israel the green light to implement annexation.
“Our consultations in January with both Prime Minister Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Gantz clearly demonstrated that we have a partner for peace in Israel,” the State Department spokesperson said, noting the Trump Administration continues to “consult closely with the Government of Israel” on annexation and peace.
The official emphasized that annexation would be in the context of the peace plan unveiled by Trump during a press conference at the White House on January 28, 2020. Trump said that the 80-page peace plan document was a “win-win” for Israelis and Palestinians.
Under the plan, according to Trump, Palestinians would “ double” the amount of land they now control. It would recognize Israeli sovereignty over major Jewish-only settlement blocs in the West Bank. Trump’s peace plan would give Palestinians a foothold in specific parts of East Jerusalem but keep the major holy, Christian, Muslim and Jewish, sites under Israeli government control.
Palestinian leaders have roundly rejected Trump’s peace plan and boycotted a preliminary meeting in Bahrain, the “Peace to Prosperity” conference last summer hosted by Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner to provide hundreds of millions of dollars in economic support for a “Palestinian State.”
“The annexation would be in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support. This is an unprecedented and highly beneficial opportunity for the Palestinians,” the spokesperson explained.
“The only realistic path forward to end this conflict is through negotiations aimed at achieving a comprehensive and lasting peace. We call on all members of the international community to put aside yesterday’s talking points and consider our plan thoughtfully. Now is the time for bold action, not tired slogans.”