Israel resuming talks with Palestine is the US’ condition for recognizing the former’s annexation of parts of the West Bank, the State Department said. Palestinians argue, in that case, there’d be nothing left to negotiate.
“As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel,” a US State Department spokesperson told the Times of Israel paper. However, they specified that it would require Israel “agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President [Donald] Trump’s vision.”
The new Israeli unity government – which formed a week ago after lengthy negotiations between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his rival Benny Gantz of the Blue and White alliance – must give the Palestinians an offer “to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support.”
Annexing Palestinian lands was Netanyahu’s election promise, but – according to his deal with Gantz – he can’t move on with the plan without Washington’s blessing.
The State Department spokesperson insisted that the US offer was an “unprecedented and highly beneficial opportunity for the Palestinians,” despite them earlier outright rejecting Trump’s so-called ‘deal of the century’ which recognized Israeli rights in those areas.
The US official’s comments drew an angry reaction from Palestine, with its foreign ministry branding them “a flagrant coup against… the peace process, the principle of a two-state solution and the relevant United Nations resolutions.”
The Palestinian diplomats accused Washington of “bias” in favor of Israeli occupation of its land. The ministry “wondered what will be left to negotiate about after Israel annexes the occupied Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea and enforces Israeli law on the illegal settlements spread throughout the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem,” Wafa news agency reported.
Over the weekend, Netanyahu said he was “confident” that Trump would allow him to claim the lands in the West Bank “a couple of months from now.”
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo insisted last week that the annexation was “ultimately… an Israeli decision,” but promised that the Americans will work closely with the Israeli authorities “to share our views of this in a private setting.”