White House Calls Netanyahu’s Version of Annexation Coordination “False”
In an embarrassment to Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the Trump Administration, the White House has strongly rejected comments by Netanyahu that give the impression he has been coordinating with Washington on plans to annex parts of the West Bank. In what amounts to President Trump accusing Binyamin Netanyahu of proffering “fake news,” the White House took umbrage at Netanyahu saying that he has been “maintaining a dialogue with the Americans” about “the issue of expanding Israeli sovereignty” to Israeli communities located in the West Bank, on land conquered in the 1967 war but which the Palestinians claim for their future statehood. White House spokesman Josh Raffel immediately dismissed the prime minister’s assertion, telling reporters that, “Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.” In Jerusalem, Netanyahu’s staff wasted no time in releasing a clarification, saying rather than presenting the Americans with plans, the PM instead informed the Trump team about various legislative initiatives underway, several of which deal with extending Israeli sovereignty over post-1967 lands and/or communities located in those areas. Meanwhile, the more serious attention has shifted to Moscow in the aftermath of the weekend’s events that saw Israel destroy a significant piece of the Syrian missile defense system after Russian missiles fired by Syrian forces managed to bring down an Israeli aircraft for the first time since 1982. The big winner of the weekend’s pyrotechnics, Russian President Vladimir Putin, hosted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas on Monday. The meeting was an ironic backdrop for the post-mortem of Saturday’s events that is continuing in Jerusalem where it’s become apparent that little success has come from the many trips Netanyahu has made to Moscow as part of his lobbying the Russian to withhold new defensive missile systems from the Syrians; and of maximum importance, getting Putin to see to it that when the Syrian civil war is over, the Iranians and their military infrastructure leave Syria. Apparently, the weekend’s combat exposed holes in air force operations as well as serious diplomatic insufficiencies.