WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it was an Israeli decision whether to annex parts of the West Bank and the United States will offer its views on this to the new Israeli government in private.
“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in (a) private setting.”
Pompeo also said he was “happy” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and centrist rival Benny Gantz signed a deal on Monday to form a national emergency government, saying he did not think a fourth Israeli election was in Israel’s interest.
- Abbas says Palestinian accords with Israel, U.S. null if Israel annexes West Bank land
The coalition agreement states that while the new government will strive for peace and regional stability, plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank – land the Palestinians seek for a state – could be promoted.
The move would mean a de-facto annexation of territory that Israel seized in a 1967 war and that is presently under Israeli military control. It would have to be greenlighted by the United States, after which Netanyahu would be permitted to advance plans from July 1, the agreement says.
The Palestinians and many countries consider settlements to be illegal under the Geneva Conventions that bar settling on land captured in war. Israel disputes this, citing security needs and biblical, historical and political connections to the land.
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