US Ambassador To Israel Warns Against West Bank Annexation

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The U.S. ambassador to Israel has cautioned Israel against “unilateral action” in annexing West Bank settlements, warning that such a move could endanger the Trump administration’s recently unveiled Mideast plan.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had initially sought to move quickly to annex large swathes of the West Bank containing Jewish settlements, following the U.S. plan’s announcement on Jan. 28. Netanyahu called for his Cabinet to vote on such a measure, only to call it off a day later. The move would have risked provoking a harsh backlash from the Palestinians and the international community.

U.S. Ambassador David Friedman wrote Sunday on Twitter that “the application of Israeli law to the territory which the Plan provides to be part of Israel is subject to the completion of a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee.”

“Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition,” he said.

Last month, senior Trump aide Jared Kushner said days after the plan’s announcement that the administration would not support Israel taking any unilateral steps to annex parts of the West Bank before the country’s March 2 parliamentary elections.

The Palestinians seek the West Bank, Gaza Strip and east Jerusalem for an independent state.

The Trump plan would allow Israel to annex all of its settlements along with the strategic Jordan Valley. It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in several chunks of territory with a capital on the outskirts of Jerusalem, but only if they meet stringent conditions.

While Prime Minister Netanyahu welcomed the plan as a “historic national mission,” the Palestinians have adamantly rejected it.

In the face of U.S. criticism, Netanyahu has walked back his calls for immediate annexation of the West Bank. Addressing supporters on Saturday, Netanyahu said mapping of the region was underway, and rebuffed criticism from his nationalist allies over dragging his feet.

“We have been waiting for this since ’67 and people are making a big deal over a few weeks,” Netanyahu said.

Speaking at a conference in Jerusalem on Sunday, Friedman said that “the president put out a plan for the next hundred years, not the next 30 days,” alluding to the upcoming Israeli elections on March 2.

Netanyahu is seeking a fourth consecutive term in office. This will be Israel’s third parliamentary elections in under a year after the long-serving premier failed to form a government following April’s and September’s votes. He also faces trial on a series of corruption charges after the Israeli attorney general indicted him in November. Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

“I would encourage everyone to take a step back and a deep breath because this is something that, if done right, can ensure Israel’s security and bring great prosperity and dignity to the Palestinians,” the ambassador said.

(AP)




7 COMMENTS

  1. I’m not sure it matters at this point from the perspective of the “credibility” of the U.S. as a neutral broker. Saying that this one item should be “negotiated” while seemingly siding with EY on virtually all of the other contested issues will not make the Trump Plan any more attractive to the Palestinians (although probably nothing will). At a minimum, they should defer any final actions on annexing areas on the West Bank until they have exhausted efforts to engage directly with Abbas or some other representatives of the Palestinians.

  2. Did the US ambassador also say that moving he American Embassy to Jerusalem also cause a ruckus ????

    Fire the ambassador and delay forever a replacement !!!

    Gerry Mullen

  3. SO MUCH FOR THE “INDEPENDENT” JEWISH STATE. PERHAPS ISRAEL SHOULD APPLY TO BECOME THE 51ST STATE OF AMERICA. THEN WE COULD ADOPT THE DOCTRINE OF MANIFEST DESTINY (YOU KILL ALL THE NATIVES AND ANNEX THE LANDS).