The White House has denied that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is in talks with the Trump administration regarding the incorporation of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria into the rest of Israel.
“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” stated White House spokesman Josh Raffel on Monday.
“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.”
Earlier on Monday, Netanyahu had made such a suggestion in a meeting with members from his Likud party.
“I can tell you that for a while now I’ve been talking about it with the Americans,” the prime minister had claimed.
“I’m guided by two principles in this issue—optimal coordination with the Americans, whose relationship with us is a strategic asset for Israel and the settlement movement, and the fact that it must be a government initiative rather than a private one because it would be a historic move.”
Shortly after Josh Raffel made his remarks, the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office released a statement of clarification.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu updated the Americans with regard to legislative initiatives in the Knesset,” the statement read. “The U.S. expressed its unequivocal position that they were committed to advancing President Trump’s peace plan.”
The administration of US President Donald Trump has been noticeably much more tolerant of Israeli construction in Judea and Samaria. Nevertheless, Netanyahu has elected to approach Israeli policy towards Judea and Samaria with caution and to coordinate with the Trump White House. In that effort, Netanyahu established a joint mechanism with the US in January 2017 regarding construction in both regions.