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White House Talks on Israeli Annexation End Without Decision

Three days of meetings by Trump Administration officials on whether to give Israel a green light to annex parts of the West Bank have ended inconclusively. “There is as yet no final decision on the next steps for implementing the Trump plan,” said a White House official, referring to the US Administration’s “Vision for Peace” plan that includes Israel’s annexation of up to 30% of the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state in the rest of the disputed territory. Participants in the meetings included US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, the Trump Administration’s Mideast envoy Avi Berkowitz, senior adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner, and national security adviser Robert O’Brien. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had set Wednesday, July 1, as a target date for beginning cabinet discussions on the implementation of plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the territory as well as the Jordan Valley region. Friedman and Berkowitz are reportedly returning to Israel to continue discussions on the matter. It is thought that Friedman supports Netanyahu’s intention to move forward with plans to annex all of the 132 settlements, while Kushner backs a more cautious approach and may recommend that Trump greenlight a more limited annexation of a handful of settlements around Jerusalem. The Palestinian Authority has cut all ties to Israel in protest against the annexation plan. The United Nations, the Arab League, and many European countries have voiced strong opposition to any unilateral Israeli annexation of disputed territories where the Palestinians hope to build a state of their own.