White House dispatches envoy to Israel for annexation talks

A serpentine road extends between the Jewish settlement of Givat Zeev (background) and Palestinian villages near the Israeli-occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (File photo: AFP)

The United States has not made a final decision on its stance with regards to Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank, but Washington will send its special envoy to Tel Aviv for more "meetings and analysis," a senior White House official said Thursday.

Aides to US President Donald Trump have held meetings over the last three days, according to Reuters, to decide on Washington's stance over the annexation plans that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced in May.

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Annexation would mean that Israel unilaterally proclaims sovereignty over these areas, which is forbidden by international law.

But the international community, including the Arab League, Europe and the United Nations, have vehemently condemned the plans and called on Netanyahu to refrain from moving ahead. The US has been ambiguous in its stance.

"The meetings this week were productive. [US] Ambassador [to Israel David] Friedman is returning to Israel tonight with Special Envoy Avi Berkowitz and Mapping Committee member Scott Leith for further meetings and analysis," the senior White House official told Al Arabiya.

Read more: International community reprimands Israel’s annexation plans

White House’s Kushner unveils economic portion of Middle East peace plan

Trump unveiled his ‘Deal of the Century’ in January, which includes a two-state solution - creating a Palestinian state alongside the state of Israel - and a four-year freeze of Israeli development in area eyed for the future Palestinian state.

Asked about the peace plan, the White House official said: "There is yet no final decision on next steps for implementing the Trump plan.”

Israel intends to annex its West Bank settlements and the Jordan Valley, as outlined in the US peace plan, which has been widely criticized and rejected by the Palestinians. The settlements were built on land captured during the 1967 Arab-Israeli War.

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Last Update: Thursday, 25 June 2020 KSA 20:09 - GMT 17:09
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