'Israel Inquiring With U.S. About Annexation' After Kushner Contradicts Netanyahu

Noa Landau
Noa Landau
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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner during their meeting in Jerusalem May 30, 2019.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shakes hands with Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner during their meeting in Jerusalem May 30, 2019. Credit: Handout/Reuters
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Israel is inquiring with the United States about the possibility of annexing the Jordan Valley and West Bank settlements before its March 2 election, a senior member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's entourage said on Thursday, after senior White House officials expressed dismay over Netanyahu's promise to bring the matter to a vote before the government on Sunday.

When asked if anything had changed since Netanyahu's pledge, the source, who is travelling with the prime minister from Moscow to Israel, said: "I hope nothing's changed. It wasn't done in bad faith and we're inquiring about the matter."

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On Wednesday, Kushner said in an interview that he hopes Israel will not annex settlements before the upcoming election. Kushner said the United States is preparing to discuss the technical details of annexation with Israel, but that this discussion "will take time." 

"We have been working on this for three years, hundreds of hours, to bring about the best agreement in Israel," the source added, "and what has been achieved is a huge thing: The recognition of a U.S. President applying Israeli law to the Jordan Valley, Northern Dead Sea, communities in Judea and Samaria and what surrounds them. Much more than other programs, by far. There is no arguing over what we have achieved. "


However, the source added that "there is a technical problem: Americans want it all at once. They don't want a few steps. We wanted two or more steps. First the Jordan Valley, the Dead Sea and the communities in Judea and Samaria - and then what surrounds them. Because it requires a lot of map work. This is the technical question that needs to be addressed. But there is no argument about the essence."

Kushner spoke with Gzero Media, a website focused on global affairs. In response to a question about Netanyahu's announcement that he will bring annexation to a governmental vote as soon as next week, Kushner said, "Let's see what happens. The hope is that they'll wait until after the election," which is scheduled for March 2. 

Kushner's statements counter those of the prime minister, who had promised Israeli journalists in a briefing after his joint appearance with Trump on Tuesday that the settlements will be annexed on Sunday. When Kushner was asked whether the Trump administration would support an immediate annexation measure, Kushner said, "No, we've agreed with them on forming a technical team to start studying the maps.

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