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May 18, 2020 12:14 pm

Trump Peace Plan ‘a Historic Opportunity,’ Will Be Pursued ‘in Coordination’ With Neighbors, New Israeli FM Ashkenazi Says

avatar by Benjamin Kerstein

New Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. Photo: Reuters / Amir Cohen.

Newly-installed Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday called US President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal a “historic opportunity,” but also sought to reassure Israel’s neighbors concerned about potential West Bank annexation plans.

In his inaugural speech as Israel’s top diplomat, Ashkenazi — an ex-IDF chief of staff — said Trump’s initiative — which many believe could be used as a basis for annexation with American support — would be pursued “responsibly, in coordination and in dialogue with our neighbors, while maintaining the peace agreements and the strategic interests of the State of Israel.”

Both Egypt and Jordan have formal peace treaties with Israel, and Ashkenazi noted, “I see great importance in strengthening strategic ties with Egypt and Jordan as important allies in addressing the challenges in the region.”

He added that he would “promote contacts and cooperation with other countries in the region, in order to strengthen the strategic position of the State of Israel.”

Nonetheless, Ashkenazi said the US peace plan was “a historic opportunity for us to shape the future of the State of Israel for decades to come.”

In an interview with German weekly Der Spiegel published last Friday, Jordanian King Abdullah II warned, “If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan.”

Asked if Jordan would cancel its 1994 peace treaty with Israel if annexation went forward, Abdullah said, “I don’t want to make threats and create a loggerheads atmosphere, but we are considering all options.”

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