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Trump Administration to Hold ‘Decisive’ Meeting on Israeli Annexation

Members of the Trump Administration will this week hold a “decisive” meeting on whether to back Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s stated intention to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1. According to Israeli media, the US president will be joined by senior White House adviser Jared Kushner, the architect of the US Middle East peace plan; Secretary of State Mike Pompeo; National Security Adviser Richard O’Brien; lead negotiator Avi Berkowitz; and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who will reportedly fly back to Washington on Sunday following tête-à-têtes with Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. The media reports claimed that Pompeo and Friedman are inclined to support the prospective application of Israeli sovereignty over as much as 30% of the West Bank in consonance with the US peace proposal, whereas Kushner maintains reservations given widespread global opposition to the move. It comes on the backdrop of disagreements between Netanyahu and Gantz, with the latter repeatedly insisting that Jerusalem should only proceed in conjunction with the international community and in a manner that does not threaten the Jewish state’s peace treaties with both Egypt and Jordan. As such, Netanyahu has floated the idea of pressing ahead in stages, perhaps initially by incorporating into Israel the large settlement blocs of Ma’aleh Adumim and Gush Etzion – both located close to Jerusalem – in addition to the city of Ariel in the northern West Bank.