White House denies discussing annexation of settlements with Israel

“Reports that the US discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” a White House spokesman stated.

By: Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Mere hours after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu told his Likud faction on Monday that he has been discussing the application of Israeli sovereignty to Area C in Judea and Samaria “for awhile now” with the Americans, the US issued a firm denial that any such talks had taken place.

“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” said Josh Raffel, a White House spokesman. “The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.”

The Prime Minister’s Office then clarified that Netanyahu had only “updated the Americans on the (annexation) initiatives being raised in the Knesset” and did not present any specific proposals to the administration.

There have, in fact, been several annexation bills put forward by lawmakers in the current term before the latest comprehensive proposal put forward by Likud Member of Knesset Yoav Kisch. The cities of Maaleh Adumim and Ariel and the regions of Gush Etzion and the Jordan Valley have all been subjects of various legislators’ bills.

The proposed bill would apply Israeli law to the Jewish towns and villages in Judea and Samaria, a step that most consider to be tantamount to annexation. Currently, laws passed by the Knesset do not automatically extend to this region; they usually require a military order for them to apply because the IDF governs the area. This, argues the right wing of the political spectrum, has led to de facto discrimination against Jewish citizens who live there, who have all the obligations of citizens but not all legal rights.

“The position of Prime Minister Netanyahu is that if the Palestinians persist in their refusal to negotiate for peace, Israel will present its own alternatives,” the PMO stated.