Report: White House Will Not Back West Bank Annexation Without Israeli Government Consensus
The White House will not back annexation of parts of the West Bank without a consensus in the Israeli government, particularly between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
According to a report published Tuesday by Israel’s Channel 13, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attended a meeting with the three men on Sunday in order to urge them to reach an understanding on the issue, that would then be brought to the Trump administration for approval.
At the moment, no such consensus exists, with Netanyahu — head of the right-wing Likud party — pushing to annex the maximum amount of territory possible, and Gantz and Ashkenazi — No. 1 and No. 2 in the centrist Blue and White party — seeking the opposite.
Gantz has said publicly that, while he approved annexing some parts of the West Bank, especially the strategic Jordan Valley, he wanted it done only in coordination with Israel’s Arab neighbors and the US. The former is extremely unlikely to take place.
Also on Tuesday, Palestinian Authority (PA) Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh warned that if annexation took place, the PA would react by unilaterally declaring a state based on the 1967 borders.
“We will move from the PA’s temporary stage to establishing a reality on the ground through the establishment of a state,” he said, according to Israeli news site Walla.
“There will be a constitutional declaration, a constituent assembly will be established, and there will be a Palestinian state,” Shtayyeh pledged.