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US to Israel: Put Brakes on West Bank Annexation – For Now

The Trump Administration has reportedly implored the Israeli government not to annex any portions of the West Bank prior to the release of a long-stalled US peace plan. The overture purportedly came after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier this week expressed support for a potential parliamentary vote on the application of Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley. That, in turn, followed a campaign vow by Benny Gantz, whose Blue and White list is currently leading in the polls ahead of Israel’s March 2 national elections, to annex the territory “in coordination with the international community.” Speculation is rife that President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” will call for Israel’s retention of most, if not all, Jewish communities located across the pre-1967 borders. The Palestinians claim the entire West Bank, along with the Gaza Strip, as part of their future state. US media reported this week that the White House will decide within days whether to release the peace proposal prior to the Israeli election. Notably, senior presidential adviser Jared Kushner – the architect of the plan – and lead negotiator Avi Berkowitz were scheduled to be in Jerusalem for the Fifth World Holocaust Forum but postponed their trip.