Middle East/North Africa

Trump has ‘no final decision’ on Israeli plans for annexation

President Trump has no final decision on whether to support Israeli plans to annex areas of the West Bank and Jordan Valley, outlined in his “Vision for Peace” and following a series of meetings at the White House.

A senior White House official said Thursday that “meetings this week were productive” but “there is yet no final decision on next steps for implementing the Trump plan.”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will travel back to Jerusalem with White House officials as part of the joint U.S. and Israeli mapping committee, which has worked over the past few months to define Israeli borders broadly outlined in maps part of Trump’s plan.

“Ambassador Friedman is returning to Israel tonight with Special Envoy Avi Berkowitz and Mapping Committee member Scott Leith for further meetings and analysis,” the senior official said.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is expected to announce on July 1 plans to annex territory. The Trump plan, unveiled in January, had provided Israel with roughly 30 percent of the West Bank and all of the Jordan Valley and envisioned a disjointed Palestinian state encircled by an Israeli security barrier.

It’s unclear the scope of Netanyahu’s annexation plans.

The prime minister, who is in a power sharing government with his formal political rival Benny Gantz, reportedly previewed four maps in a meeting with Gantz and Israel’s foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi. 

Virtually all of the international community has warned against Israel moving forward on annexation and joined by Arab and Gulf states allied with the U.S.

Israel’s security establishment has also opposed annexation, with at least 220 former military, police and intelligence commanders signing onto a letter against such a move. 

Israeli officials have signaled that U.S. support is key before moving forward on annexation but Trump and his administration officials have yet to endorse such plans.

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday said the decision to annex territory rests with Israel alone.

The debate over annexation has increased the partisan divide in Congress over Israel. Republican lawmakers have urged Trump to put his support behind Israel, while Democrats have sent a letter to Netanyahu and Israeli officials warning against unilateral moves.

Tags America Benjamin Netanyahu congressional approval Donald Trump Israel Israel-US relations Israeli annexation Jordan Valley Mike Pompeo Palestine West Bank

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