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Israeli assertion dismissed as false

Reuters
Wednesday, February 14, 2018

JERUSALEM - The US dismissed as false an Israeli assertion on Monday that the two countries were discussing the possibility of Israel annexing Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, in a rare display of discord between US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"On the subject of applying sovereignty, I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time," Mr Netanyahu told a closed-door meeting of his right-wing Likud party's legislators, according to the party's spokesperson.

Mr 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.

Later on Monday, the White House denied having such discussions and a senior Israeli official said Mr Netanyahu had not made a specific annexation proposal to Washington.

"Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false," White House spokesperson Josh Raffel said.

"The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president's focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative."

Issuing a clarification, the prime minister's office stepped back from any suggestion of a dialogue with Washington on any government annexation plan. It said Mr Netanyahu had only updated the Americans on proposed legislation in parliament.

Some commentators suggested Mr Netanyahu's remarks to Likud might have been a move to placate right-wingers in his cabinet rather than a concrete plan.

The remarks stoked Palestinian anger, already high over Mr Trump's December 6 announcement that the US recognises Jerusalem as Israel's capital, a reversal of decades of US policy.








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