Mar 5, 2020 - World

U.S. to approve Israeli annexations within months if Palestinians don't negotiate

Kushner with Netanyahu. Photo: Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Jared Kushner told senators in a closed-door briefing Wednesday that the Trump administration is pressing ahead with its Middle East peace plan, even with the Palestinians boycotting the process and without a stable government in Israel, White House officials tell me.

Why it matters: The path could soon be cleared for Israel to annex areas of the West Bank envisioned as part of Israel under the plan. In the meantime, the administration is urging the Palestinians to negotiate, warning that its current plan will move forward without their input if they don't.

Inside the room: Senators raised the issue of annexations in the meeting with Kushner.

  • He said the mapping and demarcation process will continue but will take months.
  • The Palestinians could improve the proposal by negotiating, he said, but it will otherwise move ahead without their input.

Where things stand: A joint U.S.-Israeli mapping committee convened in Jerusalem two weeks ago to begin discussing the demarcation of areas in the West Bank the Trump administration is ready to recognize as part of Israel.

  • Despite the ongoing political chaos in Israel, the White House feels that because Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, his primary rival, both support the plan it can move ahead.
  • The White House claims that Palestinian leaders will have only themselves to blame if a plan they've rejected outright comes to fruition without their approval.
“Nobody can say we didn’t give the Palestinians a chance to go back to the table. If they want to talk we are ready. We think we can make it better for them, but if not the world is going to move on without them. We are not going to do things in the same stupid manner it was done before. We are going to keep moving forward."
— White House official

Between the lines: The Trump administration broke from recent precedent in putting forward a detailed plan that was not agreed to by both sides, rather than attempting to set the parameters for Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.

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