Danon: Annexation decision to be coordinated with US

Ambassador to the UN Danny Danon says the Israeli government decision on annexing settlements in Judea and Samaria “will be coordinated with the U.S.”

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Israel’s Ambassador to the United Nations Danny Danon said that any Israeli move to apply sovereignty to parts of Judea and Samaria would be coordinated with the United States, Israel Hayom reported on Sunday.

However, Danon rejected threats from European and other countries which threatened to retaliate against Israel for such a move. Israel “has been able to handle the international community’s pressure in the past and we will know how to do so in the future,” he said.

Danon may have been responding to comments made by the State Department’s chief spokesperson on Friday, Morgan Ortagus, in order to calm any fears that Israel would act outside of the framework of the U.S. administration’s Mideast peace plan. In a phone briefing with Israeli reporters, Morgan said, “We think these discussions should be a part of the peace process, part of President Trump’s Vision for Peace. So it should be part of discussions between the Israelis and the Palestinians.”

Although Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas rejected the Trump plan, Ortagus said the U.S. has “by no means given up hope” that the Palestinians would come back to the negotiating table.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose new unity government was sworn in on Sunday, had said he would move to apply Israeli law to the large settlement blocs in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley within a few months. He spoke about sovereignty during his speech at the Knesset, which kicked off the process of swearing in the new government.

However, the issue of sovereignty was left out of the new government’s policy principles that were released to the public last week, something that Naftali Bennett, leader of the right-wing Yemina party, criticized at the time.

Israel’s sovereignty bid has met with opposition.

European countries and Jordan’s King Abdullah warn that a unilateral Israeli annexation of settlements would kill the proposed two-state solution, and they would take punitive measures against Israel.

King Abdullah warned of serious consequences should Israel proceed with its annexation plans.

“If Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict with the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan,” said the king, whose father King Hussein signed a peace treaty with Israel in 1994.

“I don’t want to make threats and create an atmosphere of loggerheads, but we are considering all options. We agree with many countries in Europe and the international community that the law of strength should not apply in the Middle East,” Abdullah said.

European Union foreign ministers held a video-conference on Friday to voice their opposition to any unilateral Israeli annexation of settlements and reaffirmed their support for the two-state solution.

“We must work to discourage any possible initiative toward annexation,” EU foreign minister Josep Borrell said, adding that the EU would use “all our diplomatic capacities in order to prevent any kind of unilateral action.”

Trump’s peace plan includes the option for Israeli annexation. However, last month U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said America was prepared to recognize an Israeli declaration of sovereignty over settlements in Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley so long as the Jewish state accepts conditions requested by the Trump administration.

One of those conditions is the prime minister of Israel has to agree to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan, which includes a future Palestinian state. Friedman himself noted that Netanyahu has already agreed to this.