White House opposes Israel's West Bank annexation prior to release of peace plan
Benjamin Netanyahu (L), Benny Gantz. Photos: Sean Gallup/Getty Staff, Jack Guez/Getty Contributor
The White House is opposed to Israel's moves to annex the West Bank prior to the release of the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace plan, senior U.S. officials tell me.
Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Tuesday that he wants Israel's parliament, the Knesset, to vote on the annexation of the Jordan Valley as soon as next week, but the White House position dramatically reduces the chances of that happening.
Between the lines: The U.S. officials said the Trump administration has made its position clear to the Israeli government, and Netanyahu is aware that the U.S. doesn’t want Israel to take any unilateral steps before the peace plan is published.
Details: Netanyahu's new annexation statements came after his main opponent in upcoming elections, Benny Gantz, visited the Jordan Valley and announced he will annex the Jordan Valley "in coordination with the international community" if he wins on March 2.
- Netanyahu quickly announced he is ready to bring annexation to a vote in the Knesset.
- A Twitter brawl erupted between the prime minister and Gantz after Netanyahu's announcement — with the politicians attacking each other for not being serious about annexation.
- The back-and-forth underscores the fierce fight for right-wing voters.
The bottom line: It is still unclear when the U.S. peace plan will be presented. U.S. officials say Trump is expected to announce his decision in the next few days.
- President Trump’s senior adviser Jared Kushner had been scheduled to arrive in Israel Wednesday to discuss the issue with Netanyahu and Gantz, but cancelled his trip due to bad weather.
- Kushner was also supposed to visit Israel to participate in an international conference on fighting anti-Semitism.