Biden says he opposes Israel annexing territory

Greg Nash

Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden said Tuesday he does not support Israeli moves to annex territory, his most forceful opposition to the prospect of Israel’s government moving forward on sovereignty over the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

“I do not support annexation,” the vice president said during a virtual fundraiser with members of the American Jewish community, according to a transcript reviewed by The Hill.

“The fact is, I will reverse Trump’s undercutting of peace.”

President Trump laid out in the January unveiling of his “Vision for Peace” between Israelis and Palestinians that he would allow Israel to exercise sovereignty over approximately 30 percent of West Bank territory and the Jordan Valley.

A joint U.S.-Israeli mapping committee has worked in the intervening months to draw the specific boundaries of the territory the U.S. outlined in its plan.

The Trump administration has offered confusing stances over how they see Israel proceeding with annexation, at first saying the government “does not have to wait” to exercise sovereignty to saying any annexation should be done in consultation with the Palestinians.

“…We think these discussions should be part of the peace process, part of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” State Department Spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus said in a briefing with Israeli reporters last week and referring to annexation, according to the Jerusalem Post

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to bring a vote sometime this summer on moving forward on annexation, the one agenda item that is unrelated to the efforts to contain and combat the coronavirus outbreak in the country.

Biden has resisted opposing annexation outright in previous remarks, instead arguing that unilateral steps on either side — Israeli or Palestinian — make achievement of a two-state solution harder.

On the Tuesday call with the American Jewish community, the vice president called out Israel for harming chances of a negotiated solution with the Palestinians.

“Israel needs to stop the threats of annexation and stop settlement activity because it will choke off any hope of peace,” he said.

Biden, however, unequivocally opposed putting conditions on U.S. military assistance to Israel to exercise leverage against moves towards annexation, a move that has a majority of bipartisan support in Congress.

“I will not place conditions on security assistance given the serious threat Israelis face,” he said.

Biden also called for Palestinian leadership to end incitement against Israelis and to stop rocket attacks coming from the Gaza Strip and need to acknowledge Israel’s right to exist.

“They have to acknowledge flat out Israel’s right to exist. Period. As an independent Jewish state, and guarantee the borders,” he said.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Donald Trump Joe Biden
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