Netanyahu (L) with Trump, Pence, Pompeo and Kushner at the White House in January. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images

The White House is expected to hold high-level meetings this week to discuss whether to give the Israeli government a “green light” on annexing parts of the West Bank, American and Israeli sources tell me.

Why it matters: Israel won't move forward on annexation without the approval of the White House, and there are disagreements on the issue inside both the Israeli government and the Trump administration. Security and intelligence officials from both countries fear annexation would lead to violent escalation in the region.

The meetings are expected to take place Monday or Tuesday and include Jared Kushner, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien and U.S. ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who is expected to travel to Washington to attend.

  • White House envoy Avi Berkowitz had been expected to travel to Israel but stayed in Washington to attend the meetings.
  • President Trump is expected to join the discussion at a certain stage, and will make the final call on any decision.

Behind the scenes: Friedman supports giving the Israeli government a “green light” for annexation now but others in the administration are more cautious. 

  • Pompeo returned from his trip to Israel last month with many reservations about annexation, due to concerns about regional stability and internal disagreements inside to Israeli government. Pompeo has appeared to shift since then and move closer to Friedman’s position, sources say.
  • Kushner's position is unclear. He is not ideologically opposed to annexation but is deeply invested in the Trump peace plan and wants to make sure Israel's steps don't undermine it.
  • One of the main points of discussion will be the disagreements on the issue between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi.
  • U.S. officials have said they want to see broad consensus among Israel's leaders on any annexation steps.

The big picture: Any unilateral Israeli annexations would be widely considered a violation of international law and fiercely opposed by the Palestinians, countries in the region including Jordan, as well as the European Union.

  • Netanyahu has vowed to move forward with the annexation of at least some territory in the West Bank as soon as July 1 .
  • America's Arab allies, mainly Jordan and the UAE, have been warning the
    Trump administration and Israel both privately and publicly against
    annexation.
  • The foreign ministers of many EU member states raised their concerns in a video conference call with Pompeo last week. 

The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Go deeper: Netanyahu privately presents 4 plans for annexation

Go deeper

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Kushner expects more countries to normalize with Israel before Palestinian deal

White House senior adviser Jared Kushner told CNN on Tuesday that he expects more Arab countries to follow the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in normalizing relations with Israel before Palestinian leadership agrees to a peace deal.

Why it matters: After hosting a White House signing ceremony on Tuesday that formalized diplomatic ties between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain, President Trump told reporters that he expects seven to nine more countries — including possibly Saudi Arabia — to agree to a similar move.

Updated Sep 15, 2020 - World

Israel signs normalization deals with UAE and Bahrain at White House ceremony

President Trump presided over U.S.-brokered normalization agreements between Israel and Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates at the White House on Tuesday, cementing formal diplomatic ties between the countries through deals with few public details.

Why it matters: "The last Arab state to make peace with Israel was Jordan, in 1994. Egypt was the first, in 1979. The agreement is also significant for relegating the Palestinians to the sidelines," WashPost reports.

Sep 16, 2020 - World

UAE-Israel treaty states commitment to meeting the needs of Israelis and Palestinians

U.S. President Donald Trump (2nd R), Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (2nd L), UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan (R) and Bahrain Foreign Minister Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani (L) attend a signing ceremony for the agreements on "normalization of relations" reached between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain at the White House in Washington, United States on September 15, 2020. Photo:
Anadolu Agency / Getty Images

The peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates states that both countries are committed to "working together for a negotiated solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that will meet the aspirations and needs of both parties."

Why it matters: The Emiratis face criticism from the Palestinians over their peace treaty with Israel. Officials involved in the negotiations on the text of the treaty told me the Emiratis wanted to include language on Palestinians in the document. The Emiratis wanted stronger language, but Israel did not agree.

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