Jan 28, 2020

Pompeo confirms U.S. green light for Israeli annexations in West Bank

Photo: Janek Skarzynski/AFP via Getty Images

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told me in an interview today that the U.S. will support Israeli annexations in the West Bank, as long as they're consistent with the maps presented in the U.S. peace plan.

Why it matters: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he'd bring plans to annex the Jordan Valley and all settlements in the West Bank before the Cabinet on Sunday. He would not have taken such a dramatic step without U.S. backing.

What he's saying:

“We set markers for the things we thought acceptable, and in exchange [for annexation] Netanyahu is prepared to take lands that are demarcated in our maps and hold those for a future Palestinian state."
— Mike Pompeo

Pompeo said the Trump plan was the best opportunity the Palestinians would have, and he urged Palestinian leaders to reconsider their decision to reject it, or to perhaps present a counter-offer.

Pompeo warned that Trump's plan could be the final offer the Palestinians receive.

“There is a real offer that sits on the table for the Palestinians — all they need to do is to say yes. We are prepared to begin negotiations based on this vision. We can start the process towards their having the state they always wanted."

Pompeo said he was not concerned that a Netanyahu loss in the March 2 election would affect the viability of the plan.

  • He said Netanyahu’s opponent, Benny Gantz, told Trump “the plan is something he will be happy to engage in, and something he thought made sense for Israel, and that can form a basis for negotiations."

Go deeper

Netanyahu slows annexation push as White House message shifts

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Sarah Silbiger/Getty Images

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu no longer plans to bring annexations in the West Bank before his Cabinet for a vote in the coming days, after being urged to slow down by the White House.

Why it matters: Netanyahu seemed to receive the green light he was looking for yesterday to go ahead with annexations of all Israeli settlements and much of the Jordan Valley — and he planned to act quickly. Now, he's taking a step back.

Go deeperArrowJan 29, 2020

Trump presents Middle East peace plan, green lights Israeli annexations

Trump and Netanyahu at the White House. Photo: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

President Trump described his long-awaited Middle East peace plan as a "realistic two-state solution," but it's being hailed as a victory by Israel and emphatically rejected by the Palestinians.

The state of play: As the plan was released publicly, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told reporters that the areas of the West Bank envisioned as Israeli territory can be immediately annexed. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has already called on his Cabinet to endorse annexation plans this Sunday.

Go deeperArrowUpdated Jan 28, 2020

White House urges Netanyahu not to begin annexations after peace plan, sources say

Netanyahu with Jared Kushner. Photo: Getty Images

The White House has made it clear to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu that it expects him to hold off on any immediate unilateral steps — like annexing parts of the West Bank — after President Trump's peace plan is presented later today, three Israeli and U.S. sources briefed on the matter tell me.

Why it matters: Netanyahu hoped to get a green light from the White House to begin annexations in the West Bank, something that would mobilize his base ahead of the March 2 elections.

Go deeperArrowJan 28, 2020