US Team to Discuss Annexation Plans with Israeli Officials
A US delegation led by Special Middle East Envoy Avi Berkowitz will begin meetings with senior Israeli officials to examine Israel’s plans on annexing parts of the occupied West Bank.
Berkowitz arrived in Israel on Friday after a series of discussions held last week at the White House.
The US officials decided to continue discussions with Israeli officials, namely Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alternate PM Benny Gantz, Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin.
The Trump administration is leaning toward allowing Israel to pursue its plans, as promised by President Donald Trump within the framework of the peace plan he unveiled some six months ago. However, due to the sensitivity of the sovereignty issue and its ramifications, officials haven’t taken a decision on the areas that will be included in the final plan.
US and Israeli officials are exploring various roadmaps, including implementing full sovereignty in 30 percent of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley and north of the Dead Sea, according to Israeli sources.
There are also questions surrounding the Jordan Valley, which on one hand enjoys Israeli consensus in terms of sovereignty, but could damage relations with Jordan which rejects it completely.
Another proposal being discussed is that Israel should just maintain its sovereignty in the large settlement blocs, which enjoy national consensus.
Meanwhile, the Washington-based Jewish Institute for National Security of America (JINSA) issued a statement over the weekend calling for Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, claiming it is a good proposal to Jordan as well.
JINSA researchers believe that despite the “short-term tensions likely to arise from Israel's sovereignty bid, in the long-term Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley will bolster US national security.”
The Jordan Valley's depth creates a barrier and provides a far more defensible and natural boundary than the 1967 line, according to researchers, adding that it will also serve to protect Jordan and the Palestinian Authority (PA) from the real possibility of Hamas taking control over the West bank, similar to the situation in Gaza.
JINSA President and CEO Michael Makovsky told Israel Hayom that he understands Jordan's concerns about Israeli plans, but “if you think in the long term, it's also good for Jordan that Israel receives sovereignty over the Jordan Valley.”
CEO of the “Middle East forum- Israel” Nava Dromi sent an open letter to Netanyahu asking him to assign July 1 a historic day where he will fulfill his promise to impose Israeli sovereignty on areas in Judea and Samaria.
Dromi admitted that this is not a simple process. However, she indicated that in situations like these a courageous leadership is needed, just like the leadership of David Ben-Gurion during the establishment of Israel, especially with threats against the annexation and warnings of the consequences if Tel Aviv went ahead with it.