Benjamin Netanyahu has reached a deal that may enable him to bring part of the West Bank under Israel’s rule by 1 July. It is understood that there’s still no consensus on the plan in the Trump administration, though it is not expected to present any serious objection.
The White House is expected to hold a meeting on Monday or Tuesday to decide whether to approve of Netanyahu’s plan to extend Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Donald Trump’s envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Avi Berkowitz, are both expected to attend. Other likely participants will be Jared Kushner, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Richard O’Brien.
It appears that there is some disagreement within the Trump administration as to whether it should support or oppose Israel’s annexation plans. It has been reported that while Friedman supports the move, Mike Pompeo has urged Israel to go slowly so as not to close completely the possibility for reaching a peace deal in the future. It is claimed that Kushner does not oppose the idea but neither does he want Israel to make a move that would damage the prospects of advancing his peace plan.
Under a coalition agreement with his rival and erstwhile political partner Benny Gantz, Netanyahu has secured his consent to put the plan into action starting from 1 July. The terms of the US ‘peace plan’ would allow Israel to annex about 30% of West Bank territory, including all Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley. It would leave the remainder for Palestinians to have a truncated form of autonomy.
A separate report by Channel 13 said that Netanyahu is exploring several possibilities, under which Israel would take over anything from 30% of the West Bank to just a small piece of land in what would be a largely symbolic gesture.
Palestinians have strongly opposed any territorial gains by Israel which would result in a series of isolated Palestinian enclaves under Israeli military control, effectively terminating the two-state solution.
Neighbouring Jordan, as well as the European Union, Russia and the United Nations have all spoken out against the plan, warning that it would lead to more violence in the region. The Palestinian Authority has announced that mass rallies will begin across the West Bank on Monday to demonstrate the Palestinians’ opposition to the plan.
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