U.S. warns Israel about annexing West Bank lands

Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman
 Avigdor Lieberman
Avigdor Lieberman

The Trump administration has explicitly warned Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it would trigger an “immediate crisis” between the two close allies, Israel’s defense minister said Monday.

It was the latest indication that President Trump is returning to more traditional U.S. policy and will not give Israel free rein to expand its control over the West Bank and sideline the Palestinians, as Israeli nationalists had hoped.

Speaking in parliament, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said U.S. officials had been clear in their opposition to Israeli annexation of West Bank land — a notion that has gained steam in far-right Israeli circles since Trump’s election.

“We received a direct message — not an indirect message and not a hint — from the United States. Imposing Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Lieberman said, shortly before departing for a working visit to the U.S.

Judea and Samaria is the biblical term for the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Mideast war. The Palestinians seek the West Bank as the heartland of a future state, a position that has wide international backing.

The angry U.S. reaction was sparked by comments by Miki Zohar, a junior lawmaker in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s nationalist Likud Party. Zohar is among a growing number of coalition members who reject the internationally backed idea of a Palestinian state and instead suggested that Israel annex the West Bank.

Under this version of a “one-state” scenario, the West Bank’s more than 2 million Palestinians would receive expanded autonomy, but not hold full Israeli citizenship or be allowed to vote for the Knesset, or parliament.

“The two-state solution is dead,” Zohar told i24NEWS, an Israeli TV channel. “What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset.

“They will be able to vote and be elected in their city under administrative autonomy and under Israeli sovereignty and with complete security control,” Zohar added.

Israeli doves believe such a scenario would be both immoral and suicidal by threatening Israel’s Jewish and democratic character.

“One state at this moment means apartheid,” Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List of Arab parties in parliament, told reporters Monday.

Israeli citizenship
Lieberman delved into the logistics and political significance of annexing the West Bank, “The decision to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank means extending sovereignty over 2.7 million Palestinians, and I’m not even talking about international law and the international political repercussions.

“I am talking about Israeli law which stipulates that they would have to receive Israeli residency, like Palestinians in east Jerusalem. This means that Israel will have to pay them a minimum of NIS 20 billion in social security on the first day.”

Associated Press