US won't support Israel's annexations without Palestinian state negotiations
This week, the US announced it is willing to recognise and support Israel's annexation of parts of the occupied West Bank.
However, Axios reported that the White House is urging Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu not to go ahead with the annexations without accepting the rest of Trump's widely-condemned "Deal of the Century" peace plan, which includes the establishment of a Palestinian state with very limited sovereignty on only a portion of the West Bank.
A senior US official told Axios that any Israeli annexations must come "in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support."
"We are prepared to recognize Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty over areas of the West Bank in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s vision," the US official said.
The message has been conveyed to Netanyahu and his aides, Israeli and US officials told Axios.
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman previously told Netanyahu’s aides that "the US wants to implement a peace plan, not an annexation plan" at a meeting of the US-Israeli mapping committee that sought to outline parts of the West Bank that could be annexed by Israel, according to Axios.
Netanyahu's coalition deal with Blue and White party leader Benny Gantz includes a clause on debating the Trump administration's "understanding" of annexations in the cabinet, even putting it up for a vote in parliament after July 1, the report said.
On Thursday, a group of 12 European ambassadors to Israel - including those of the UK, France, Germany, and Italy - formally protested the annexations over a Zoom conference call with with the deputy director general of Israel's foreign ministry, European diplomats told Axios.
The ambassadors said annexations in the West Bank would destabilize the region, harm Israel’s standing in the international community and constitute a clear violation of international law.
After unilaterally recognising Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December 2017 and its annexation of Syria's Golan Heights in March 2019, Trump in late January 2020 unveiled the 'Deal of the Century' plan for the Middle East that included huge concessions to Israel.
The plan will allow Israel annex a third of the West Bank, including hundreds of settlements and the Jordan Valley area.
It would give the Palestinians limited autonomy in a small, non-contiguous archipelago of territory with a capital outside Jerusalem. The Palestinians have furiously rejected the plan.
Under the plan, Israel would retain full control of Jerusalem as its "undivided capital". Israel illegally annexed Palestinian East Jerusalem, which includes the Al-Aqsa Mosque - Islam's third holiest site - in 1967. Palestinians see it as the capital of their future state.