United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday that it was Israel’s decision whether to annex parts of the occupied West Bank, and the US will offer its views on this to the new Israeli government in private.
“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in [a] private setting.”
Pompeo also said he was “happy” that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist rival Benny Gantz signed a deal on Monday to form an emergency coalition government, saying he did not think a fourth Israeli election was in Israel’s interest.
According to the joint statement, the coalition is to serve as an “emergency government” for an initial six months. During that time, no laws are to be introduced that have nothing to do with the coronavirus.
One exception, however, is Israel’s intention – in accordance with US President Donald Trump’s Middle East plan – to annex the Jordan Valley and illegal Jewish settlements and other territories in the occupied West Bank, actions that would defy international law.
Netanyahu could submit these plans for approval from July, according to the statement.
Palestinians have condemned the formation of a new Israeli “annexation government”, saying the agreement would wreck hopes of peace.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said in remarks aired on Wednesday that his administration would regard agreements with Israel and the US “completely canceled” if Israel annexes land in the occupied West Bank.
“We have informed the relevant international parties, including the American and the Israeli governments, that we will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land,” Abbas said on Palestine TV.
Palestine requested today the general secretariat of the Arab League to hold an extraordinary emergency summit at the level of the foreign ministers, aimed at discussing potential action that the Arab states may take in response to Israel’s threats of annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.
“The US political discourse seemed in complete alignment with that of Israel’s right-wing parties. When right-wing extremist politicians, the likes of Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, began floating the idea of annexing most or all of the Occupied West Bank, they no longer sounded like marginal and opportunistic voices vying for attention,” wrote Palestinian journalist and editor of The Palestine Chronicle Ramzy Baroud.
“They were at the center of Israeli politics, knowing full well that Washington no longer had a problem with Israel’s unilateral action,” Baroud added.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle