Mossad chief secretly visits Egypt over West Bank annexation
Israel's Yossi Cohen went on a secret trip to Cairo a few ago to meet top ranking Egyptian officials to discuss annexations of large swaths of the occupied West Bank, according to sources close to the Egyptian regime.
Cohen was projecting possible reactions to the annexation of illegal Israeli settlements and was trying to pre-empt potential reactions from Palestinian factions – especially Hamas.
The source reported both the Egyptian and Israeli sides were discussing the possibility of matters "going out of control".
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Israel's biggest concern is that Palestinians will react violently, especially through conducting suicide operations – a tactic that was commonly used during the Second Intifada. Jerusalem is especially vulnerable to such retaliations, Tel Aviv fears.
The talks happened in the presence of Egypt's foreign minister Sameh Shoukry, according to the report.
The discussions between the Egyptian and Israeli officials were followed by an Egyptian briefing to Jordanian officials on a number of points that Cohen made, the source cited said.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's plans to annex 80 percent of the West Bank's illegal Israeli settlements.
Some critics say the annexations do not go far enough and Tel Aviv should annex all of the settlements illegally built on Palestinian land.
The unity government formed earlier this month by Netanyahu and centrist Benny Gantz has said it can start annexing parts of the West Bank as soon as July 1.
The Israeli government's annexation plans go hand-in-hand with a peace proposal by the Trump administration unveiled earlier this year.
The so-called "Deal of the Century" gives Israel a green light to annex most West Bank settlements, which are considered illegal under international law, as well as the strategic Jordan Valley.
"We have a historic opportunity, which hasn't existed since 1948, to apply sovereignty judiciously as a diplomatic... step in Judea and Samaria," Netanyahu told a meeting of lawmakers from his right-wing Likud party on Tuesday.
Right-wing Israelis and settlement advocates often use the biblical names Judea and Samaria to refer to the occupied West Bank.