US President Donald Trump meets with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on January 27 in the Oval Office of the White House. (D. Myles Cullen/Official White House Photo)

Trump to Make Final Decision on Israeli Annexations

US President Donald Trump on Tuesday or Wednesday is expected to make a final decision on whether to back Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s vow to annex parts of the West Bank on July 1. The US leader is slated to hold a “decisive” meeting at the White House that will reportedly include senior 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. While President Trump’s peace proposal envisions the application of Israeli sovereignty over all 132 Jewish settlements and the Jordan Valley, Netanyahu has reportedly resigned himself to advancing the initiative in stages. It comes on the backdrop of widespread global opposition to the move, which has concerned Washington, and amid disagreements between Netanyahu and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz. The latter has publicly insisted that Jerusalem only press forward with the project in conjunction with the international community and in a manner that does not threaten Israel’s peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan. According to Israeli media, Netanyahu last week presented Gantz with four different annexation scenarios, ranging from the “symbolic” incorporation into Israel of a few large settlements to about 30% of the West Bank. The Trump Administration has reportedly conditioned its blessing for possible annexations on broad support within the Israeli cabinet, which is divided nearly evenly between Netanyahu’s and Gantz’s political blocs. Most analysts believe that Netanyahu will abide by whatever decision President Trump makes.

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