Netanyahu Seeks US Support to Impose Sovereignty Over West Bank Settlements
The Palestinian presidency has warned against White House support for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts to impose Israeli sovereignty over West Bank settlements.
Netanyahu is seeking a public declaration from US President Donald Trump ahead of the September elections backing an Israeli move to extend its sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the West Bank.
Officials in the Premier’s Office told Zman Yisrael, The Times of Israel’s Hebrew-language site, affirmed Netanyahu’s attempts on Sunday.
“While Netanyahu cannot himself take the far-reaching diplomatic step of extending Israeli sovereignty to the settlements while he is leading the current caretaker government, his office is lobbying for public support from Trump for such a move,” the officials explained.
“This would enable Netanyahu to credibly assure right-wing voters that he can and will move quickly to apply sovereignty to the settlements if he is again elected premier,” they noted.
Israeli hardliners strongly support the move, and Netanyahu has repeatedly vowed to gradually annex West Bank settlements, a move long supported by nearly all lawmakers in his alliance with right-wing and religious parties, but he said he hoped to do so with US support.
If translated on ground, this US announcement will represent another major blow by the White House to the Palestinians.
Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and relocated his embassy there. He, then, recognized Israeli control of the Golan Heights earlier this year before halting all aid to the Palestinians and closing their office in Washington DC.
Palestinians, for their part, responded Monday by rejecting any steps expected by the US administration and warned them of the consequences.
“It is neither the right nor the legitimacy of any action or decision that affects Palestinian rights and international legitimacy,” said spokesman of Palestinian Presidency Nabil Abu Rudeineh.
“Such move will lead to serious consequences after Trump’s declaration of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, the continued storming of Jewish settlers and extremists of Al-Aqsa Mosque and the US position on refugees and the salaries of martyrs and prisoners,” Abu Rudeineh stressed.
He pointed out that stability and security are indivisible, adding that peace will not be achieved at any cost, will not establish any right, and will not create a false and viable reality.
“The Palestinian people will defend their rights, history, heritage, and sanctities, no matter how long it will take to do so,” he further noted, adding that victory, after all, is for the Palestinian right, justice and legitimacy first and for Arab and international legitimacy next.
It is noteworthy that Palestinians reject any settlements in the West Bank as void and illegal and impede geographical contact in the West Bank.
However, Israeli and Palestinian officials are expecting support from Trump’s administration for such a move given previous stances taken by him and his administration.
In an interview published by The New York Times in June, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman suggested that some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.
“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” he said.
Friedman’s comments were backed by US peace envoy Jason Greenblatt, though days later the special envoy said such steps should not be taken unilaterally or before the unveiling of the Trump administration’s peace plan.