Dec 5, 2019

Netanyahu says he discussed West Bank annexation, defense treaty with Pompeo

Mike Pompeo and Benjamin Netanyahu. Photo: Handout / Handout/Getty Images

Lisbon — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in a briefing to reporters in Lisbon that in a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday, they discussed the issue of Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank and they agreed to push the issue of a U.S.-Israeli defense treaty.

Why it matters: Both issues were prominent in Netanyahu's campaign last September and are expected to be focal points in his upcoming campaign that could launch in less than a week.

  • Netanyahu admitted it will be hard to implement both plans so long as Israel has an interim government, and that it will be problematic to pursue as the U.S. nears the 2020 presidential election over the next several months.

The state of play...

  • On annexation: Netanyahu only said he discussed the issue with Pompeo, and stressed that it will be legally impossible to annex the Jordan Valley before Israel has a new government.
  • On U.S.-Israel defense treaty: Netanyahu said he and Pompeo agreed to promote the issue moving forward. He said he will have to check if it is possible to legally sign a defense treaty with an interim government in place. Netanyahu said he will ensure the defense treaty will not limit the Israel Defense Forces' freedom of operation.
  • On Iran: Netanyahu added that he discussed the Iranian issue with Pompeo, and stressed that meeting with the secretary of state was "critical" for Israel's security.
"It's not a spin. We have to increase the pressure on the Iranians."
— Benjamin Netanyahu

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Netanyahu says he raised West Bank annexations in call with Trump

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says he and President Trump discussed the possibilities of a U.S-Israel defense treaty as well as Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley in the West Bank in their call last night.

Why it matters: This is mostly about domestic political positioning for Netanyahu as he and opposition politician Benny Gantz stare down a Dec. 11 deadline to form a government. Netanyahu gave the impression that Trump was favorably disposed toward both goals and called on Gantz to form a unity government to accomplish them.

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Rare rift: Netanyahu insists he raised West Bank annexation with Pompeo

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has found himself in a battle of narratives with the Trump administration over whether he and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo discussed Israeli annexation of the West Bank's Jordan Valley during a meeting on Wednesday in Lisbon, Portugal.

Why it matters: There has been virtually no daylight between the Trump administration and Netanyahu's government for three years. This back-and-forth comes with Israel likely headed for its third election campaign in less than a year, in which annexation of the Jordan Valley will again be a prominent talking point for Netanyahu.

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Netanyahu's fight for survival: "Witch hunt" claims and a stain on his legacy

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has denounced the corruption indictments leveled against him Thursday as an “attempted coup” and a witch hunt. He’s vowing to stay put, and planning a public campaign against the attorney general, state prosecutors and the police.

Driving the news: Thursday's announcement from Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, though long-anticipated, was a political earthquake. The indictments for bribery, fraud and breach of trust made Netanyahu the first Israeli prime minister to face criminal charges.

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