US Warning To Israel Signals New Backpedaling By Trump

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The Trump administration has explicitly warned Israel against annexing parts of the “West Bank”, saying it would trigger an “immediate crisis” between the two close allies, Israel’s defense minister said Monday.

It was the latest indication that President Donald Trump is returning to more traditional U.S. policy and will not give Israel free rein to expand its control over the West Bank and sideline the Palestinians, as many in Israel had hoped.

Speaking in parliament, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said U.S. officials had been clear in their opposition to Israeli annexation of West Bank land — a notion that has gained steam in far-right Israeli circles since Trump’s election.

“We received a direct message — not an indirect message and not a hint — from the United States. Imposing Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Lieberman said, shortly before departing for a working visit to the U.S.

The angry U.S. reaction was sparked by comments by Miki Zohar, a junior lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist Likud Party.

Zohar is among a growing number of coalition members who reject the internationally backed idea of a Palestinian state and instead suggested that Israel annex the West Bank.

“The two-state solution is dead,” Zohar told i24NEWS, an Israeli TV channel. “What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset.”

“They will be able to vote and be elected in their city under administrative autonomy and under Israeli sovereignty and with complete security control,” Zohar added.

Israeli doves believe such a scenario would be both immoral and suicidal by threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.

“One state at this moment means apartheid,” Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties in parliament, told foreign reporters Monday. “I think there needs to be great pressure for a Palestinian state to be established on the 1967 borders.”

Lieberman said he received phone calls “from the entire world” about whether Zohar’s proposal reflected the government’s position.

He called on the coalition to “clarify very clearly that there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty.”

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who supports a partial annexation of the West Bank, said she was unaware of any controversy with the Trump administration and that Israel in any case is free to do as it sees fit.

“We are not a banana republic. We are an independent and sovereign state,” she told Israel’s Army Radio station. “There is a supportive administration in the United States. That administration needs to back up the state of Israel and the government’s policy.”

On the campaign trail, Trump vowed to turn this international consensus on its head, raising great hope among Israel’s right wing.

Trump’s campaign platform made no mention of a Palestinian state. He also promised to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a move long sought by Israel.

But since then, he has shown repeated signs of backtracking.

Trump now says the embassy issue needs further study. During a White House press conference with Netanyahu last month, Trump asked the Israeli leader to “hold back on settlements.”

He also said he was open to either a two-state or one-state solution, as long as it was through an agreement with the Palestinians.

The same week, Trump’s envoy to the U.N., Ambassador Nikki Haley, said the U.S. “absolutely” supports a two-state solution, while his nominee for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a close ally of the settlers, said he “would be delighted” with such an agreement.

The mixed signals appear to be creating confusion among Israelis and Palestinians.

Last week, Netanyahu was quoted by local media as telling a closed meeting that his attempts to coordinate settlement construction with the U.S. were “not as simple as you think they are.” His office declined requests for comment.

Palestinian officials, meanwhile, have barely had contact with the new administration.

Nabil Shaath, President Mahmoud Abbas’ foreign relations adviser, said the U.S. position “regarding settlements on the Palestinian lands is not clear to us.”

“We need to hear from the U.S. administration, from President Trump, directly about his positions,” he said.

Oded Revivi, the chief foreign envoy of the Yesha Settlers Council, said he was “waiting patiently” for what he expects to be a favorable agreement between Israel and the White House on permissible settlement construction.

“I understand that it’s taking a bit longer than what may have been anticipated by some of my peers,” Revivi said. But he said Trump “seems to be a man of his word… We are still relying on what he promised.”

 

(AP)




13 COMMENTS

  1. Not to worry…on shushan Purim, the Trumpkopf in Chief will twitter that Bibi is undermining American strategic interests in the Middle East and threaten to cut off American aid unless EY withdraws to the 1967 borders. Of course, he will reiterate that was his position all the way through the campaign. Anyone who believes this man is an “ohev yisroel” should check out the bargain to be had on buying a bridge between lower Manhattan and yenavlet

  2. Not a backpedal. You show me where and when trump ever said that they can annex the West Bank. It’s the dumbest thing to do and trump won’t support it. More fake news by the ap

  3. Why are you still using the AP as a source? Haven’t we had enough fake news from them? Lieberman made this up, there is no confirmation of it, and Ade’raba, his Deputy, Tzipi Hotovely, denies it completely! The AP slant is completely leftist and anti-Israel and should NOT be a source for YWN, period!

  4. This is what the Lieberman’s Deputy said:
    Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely (Likud) also castigated Liberman over what she called his attempts at “intimidation”.
    “Minister Liberman is attempting to create a reality that does not exist yet in Washington. The political dialogue with the Americans hasn’t started yet, the current administration hasn’t put together any strategic plan for the region yet. The American government is open to considering new policies and all of the options are still on the table.”

  5. As Caroline Glick in the Jerusalem Post pointed pointed out, Liberman’s most likely source is “US Defense Secretary James Mattis. Mattis is no friend of Israel’s…After being fired from his command of Central Command in 2013, Mattis claimed that the US alliance with Israel harms the US.”. As Click notes: “The fact that Liberman has represented Mattis’s threats to Israel as the official policy of the Trump administration indicates that he doesn’t understand either who Mattis is, or how decisions are made in US administrations generally or how they are made in the Trump administration in particular.”

  6. Trump back pedaled on the one state solution as soon as Bibi got on the plane home. The embassy will not move to Yerushalayim, it’s not even mentioned at all anymore. Al tivtichu bndivim.

  7. TRUMP SHOULD BE VERY CAREFUL HOW HE DEALS WITH ISRAEL. HASHEM PUT TRUMP IN OFFICE AGAINST ALL ODDS FOR A MISSION TO CLEAN UP AMERICA AND HELP ISRAEL. BUT JUST LIKE WITH CHORISH(CYRUS) WHO FAILED IN HIS TAFKET TRUMP WILL BE IMPEACHED IF HE DOESN’T FULFILL HIS MISSION.
    WE JEWS DO NOT WORRY JUST LIKE IN PURIM HASHEM IS THERE AS ALWAYS

  8. Maybe this is proof that Obama and his appointees still in government are secrtly controlling the Trump administration. I will check this with aerial surveillance from my camera-equipped fleet of flying pigs.

  9. To No. 7

    I agree with coffee addict for a change. Any rational person needs to be a bit in the “ad shelo yadah” mode these days to process these news stories about an Alice in Wonderland foreign policy world where down is up, litvish daven nusach ari, and misnagdim are parading up and down Eastern Parkway with yellow flags and signs saying Rebbe is Moisiach. While any administration is entitled to “change its mind” or be flexible to changing global conditions, between Putin as our new BFF and all the great rhetoric on EY seemingly on hold, one has to use Kiddush club tactics to maintain one’s sanity.