The United States has told Israel that it won’t support West Bank annexations unless it agrees to negotiate on a Palestinian state and fully endorses President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century”, Axios reported on Thursday, quoting US and Israeli officials.
This week, the US announced it is willing to recognize and support Israel’s annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
However, Axios reported that the White House is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to go ahead with the annexations without accepting the rest of Trump’s widely-condemned “Deal of the Century” peace plan, which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state with very limited sovereignty on only a portion of the West Bank.
A senior US official told Axios that any Israeli annexations must come “in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions, and generous economic support.”
“We are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty over areas of the West Bank in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s vision,” the US official said.
The message has been conveyed to Netanyahu and his aides, Israeli and US officials told Axios.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman previously told Netanyahu’s aides that “the US wants to implement a peace plan, not an annexation plan” at a meeting of the US-Israeli mapping committee that sought to outline parts of the West Bank that could be annexed by Israel, according to Axios.
On Thursday, a group of 12 European ambassadors to Israel – including those of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy – formally protested the annexations over a Zoom conference call with the deputy director-general of Israel’s foreign ministry, European diplomats told Axios.
The ambassadors said that the West Bank annexation would destabilize the region, harm Israel’s standing in the international community, and constitute a clear violation of international law.
In a video address on Sunday to a pro-Israeli Christian group in Europe, Netanyahu described the Middle East plan announced by President Donald Trump in January as a promise to recognize Israel’s authority over Israeli settlements in the West Bank.
On April 20, after three general elections and an unprecedented deadlock, all within the course of one year, Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz signed a government coalition agreement.
According to the deal, “Netanyahu can advance legislation to annex parts of the West Bank starting July 1, on the condition that the move is supported by the U.S. administration,” Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported.
Source: The Palestine Chronicle