Kushner: ‘I Don’t Believe’ Netanyahu Will Annex Settlements This Weekend

Key figure in creating peace plan speaks hours after PM says first stage of applying Israeli sovereignty to settlements will be brought before government on Sunday

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
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Jared Kushner arrives for a joint press conference by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu on January 28, 2020.
Jared Kushner arrives for a joint press conference by Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu on January 28, 2020.Credit: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON – Jared Kushner said Tuesday he was unaware of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intention to put the first phase of annexing West Bank settlements before the Israeli government on Sunday.

Kushner, President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, spoke hours after Netanyahu announced that the first stage of applying Israeli sovereignty to Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Jordan Valley and northern Dead Sea would be brought before the government on Sunday. 

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That announcement came after Trump unveiled his administration's peace plan for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which Netanyahu said showed that the United States recognized the application of Israeli law to these areas. 

Kushner was interviewed on CNN and asked about Netanyahu's statement. “I don’t believe that’s going to happen this weekend, at least not as far as I know,” Kushner replied.

>> Read more: What Israel and Palestine will look like according to Trump's plan ■ Trump's Mideast plan is a recipe for war, not peace | Opinion ■ Trump’s peace plan will fail – but its vision could still endure | Analysis 

Trump’s ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said earlier on Tuesday that Israel was “free” to begin annexing the settlements whenever it wanted. Friedman’s statement is in line with what Netanyahu announced.

In a briefing with reporters, Netanyahu said the international community has threatened for years that applying Israeli law in West Bank territories would result in UN Security Council sanctions. “That is why we didn’t annex,” he said, adding that the U.S. recognition would prevent such an outcome. 

Netanyahu added that applying sovereignty would occur in two phases: At the next cabinet meeting, Israeli law would be applied to the Jordan Valley, the northern Dead Sea and all of the West Bank settlements. After that, he said, and in coordination with the United States, the next phase would be applying Israeli law to more territories surrounding the settlements.