The US members of a committee formed to map out areas of the West Bank that Israel plans to annex as part of US President Donald Trump administration’s peace plan has arrived in Tel Aviv on Monday. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett were seen racing to press ahead with the project.
Netanyahu had announced that 3,000 homes would be built for Jewish residents in Jerusalem while Bennett spoke about the establishment of around 2,000 residential units in the Bank settlements.
The Israeli PM had also ordered that 12 unauthorized settlement outposts in the occupied West Bank be connected to the state’s power grid while the Defense Minister spoke of a settlement development plan at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron.
Under Trump’s peace deal, all West Bank settlements are to become part of sovereign Israel. However, the status of Jewish Hebron and the Tomb remains unclear.
Accordingly, a joint US-Israeli committee should complete a detailed map of the territory that could be annexed before Israel applies sovereignty to West Bank settlements.
The US mapping committee includes US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, his adviser Aryeh Lightstone, and C. Scott Leith, senior adviser for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of the National Security Council.
The committee already held preparatory talks over the issue in Washington before it arrived in Tel Aviv.
The US team should immediately begin talks with the Israeli mapping team, which includes Tourism and Immigration Minister Yariv Levin and Acting Director of the Prime Minister’s Office Ronen Peretz.
On Monday, Netanyahu toured the occupied East Jerusalem along with Levin and Peretz.
From the West Bank settlement of Ariel, where a meeting with the US mapping team was held, Netanyahu said: “The mapping is underway to prepare the way for extending sovereignty on these territories.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian presidential spokesman, Nabil Abu Rudeineh said the US-Israeli maps that Netanyahu said will be drawn soon according to the so-called "deal of the century" would not give legitimacy to anyone and that all settlements are going to demise.
"These maps that violate United Nations resolutions cannot be transformed into a fait accompli, and the only map that can be recognized and dealt with is the map of the state of Palestine on the 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital," he stressed.
The Palestinian spokesman called on the international community to take immediate action to stop this dangerous Israeli-US escalation, which will lead to the elimination of any opportunity for a just and comprehensive peace based on United Nations resolutions.
On Sunday, European foreign policy chief Josep Borrell criticized Israel’s announced plans to build a new neighborhood in East Jerusalem and expand another, warning such action “would be deeply detrimental to a two-state-solution.”