Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Monday he has been discussing with the United States the possibility of Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, drawing swift condemnation from Palestinian leaders. Netanyahu did not say how far discussions had gone on annexing some of the land that the Palestinians want for a future state - a move that would be certain to meet strong international opposition, APA reports quoting Reuters.
“On the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time,” Netanyahu told a closed-door meeting of his right-wing Likud party’s legislators, according to the party’s spokesman.
Netanyahu was referring to applying Israeli law to the settlements, a step tantamount to annexation. They are currently under the jurisdiction of Israel’s military, which has occupied the West Bank since the 1967 war.
There was no immediate confirmation from the White House on whether discussions on the subject had been held and a senior Israeli official said Netanyahu had not made a specific annexation proposal to Washington.
Some commentators suggested Netanyahu’s remarks to Likud might have been a move to placate right-wingers in his cabinet rather than a concrete plan.
But the statement stoked Palestinian anger, already high over U.S. President Donald Trump’s Dec. 6 announcement that the United States recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.