The joint U.S.-Israel committee tasked with mapping the areas to which Israel will extend its sovereignty under the Trump peace plan held its first meeting on Monday outside the Samaria city of Ariel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attended the meeting, which was led by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, his senior adviser Aryeh Lightstone, and Scott Leith, the director of Israeli and Palestinian affairs in the U.S. National Security Council.
The Israeli members of the committee include Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, acting Prime Minister’s Office chief Ronen Peretz and National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat.
Shabbat was absent from Monday’s meeting due to the recent deterioration of the security situation in southern Israel. Ariel Mayor Eli Shviro joined the delegates for the meeting.
Ambassador Friedman said before the start of the meeting: “In Israel, rain is a blessing, and I hope that our efforts should be blessed as much as the rain is coming down right now. We are looking forward to going from here to sit down someplace quiet, [where]we can pull out some papers and start getting to work. We have our team here, and we’re going to get to work right away. We hope to complete it as soon as possible, and complete it the right way for the State of Israel.”
The Israeli delegates briefed their American counterparts on the communities in the area and later moved the meeting to nearby Ariel University.
Committee members said they would spare no effort to complete their task quickly, and expressed hope that next week’s elections—Israel’s third in 12 months—would yield a clear-cut decision so that the sovereignty map could be approved by a government that enjoyed the Knesset’s confidence.
“The joint mapping process is a major mission,” said Netanyahu. “The area has an 800-kilometer perimeter. There is serious work, but we will work as quickly as possible to get it done.
“Mapping is underway in order to allow for the application of Israeli law on these areas and later American recognition as well. I want to commend Ambassador Friedman and his aide who are here together with mapping experts from the U.S.”
The process, he noted, “Will be completed as rapidly as possible; there is no artificial impediment. For the mapping process, one must consider every valley, every section, every nook and every line; this is serious. We are determining here lines that have historic implications. Therefore, the work will be done as quickly as possible, and we will not stop for anything.”
This article first appeared in Israel Hayom.