American official says the U.S. is ready to consider an Israeli option to annex only a few settlement blocs but waiting to hear from Netanyahu.
By Paul Shindman, World Israel News
The United States is ready to consider an Israeli choice for a limited annexation of only a few settlement blocs but is waiting to hear the details, an American official said Thursday.
Following a report that Israel is considering the annexation of only three settlement blocs beginning in July, the American official told Kan Radio that the U.S. is ready to consider the option once the decision is made and they have the details.
“Israel will have to submit the maps and proposal, and we will have to discuss,” the official said, adding that the Americans were looking for explanations of why there was interest only in specific areas.
An unconfirmed news report Wednesday quoting Israeli officials said Netanyahu would start the annexation with three specific settlement blocs: the Jerusalem satellite city of Ma’ale Adumim and several nearby settlements, the Gush Etzion bloc of settlements in the Judean Mountains south of the capital, and the area around the city of Ariel, about 35 kilometers (21 miles) east of Tel Aviv.
Discussion and contacts between Israelis and Americans are ongoing. U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman is expected to meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi next week to deal with the annexation issue, the report said.
Netanyahu has set July 1 as his target date for applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements in Judea and Samaria. Although no final decision has been made, the initial plan involved annexing all settlements in the Jordan Valley, Judea and Samaria with Israel taking up to 30 percent of the land there.
However, that plan would leave many communities as isolated islands inside Palestinian territory. Representatives of the Yesha Council of settlements are split, with many opposed to the plan that would also pave the way for a Palestinian state. Others are rallying behind Netanyahu and urging him to exploit the opportunity to gain American recognition of the settlements that Israel does annex.
On Wednesday, a group of residents of Judea and Samaria protested against President Donald Trump’s “Deal of the Century” at a rally held outside Friedman’s Jerusalem residence.