May 12, 2020 - World

No firm timeline for Israeli annexations in West Bank: U.S. officials

Netanyahu (L) with Trump. Photo: Getty

The Trump administration does not view the new Israeli government's July 1 deadline to begin the process of annexing parts of the West Bank as a "do or die" date, a senior U.S. official tells me.

Why it matters: Israel will want an American “green light” before making any moves on annexation.

The backstory: The coalition deal that allowed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to form a new government says he can bring "the understandings with the Trump administration" on annexation up for a vote in the cabinet or parliament as early as July 1 — but only with the full agreement of the White House.

The latest: Pompeo will meet in Jerusalem on Wednesday with Netanyahu, incoming Minister of Defense Benny Gantz, and incoming Minister of Foreign Affairs Gabi Ashkenazi.

  • Pompeo was non-committal on the timetable for annexations in an interview with Israel Hayom, a pro-Netanyahu newspaper.
  • He's not expected to make any commitments on this issue while in Israel, in public statements or behind closed doors, officials tell me.
  • U.S. officials tell me their focus is on the coronavirus crisis, and it would be premature to move forward on this issue.

At the same time, the Trump administration continues to warn the Palestinians that their decision to boycott talks will not work out in their favor.

  • “If the Palestinians continue to refuse to engage and don’t come to the table it could have negative consequences for them and it will make our decision-making regarding annexation much easier," a U.S. official told me
  • Palestinian leaders have rejected President Trump's proposal outright, and dismiss the idea that his administration could mediate impartially on this issue.
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