After Netanyahu Commits to Future Annexation, Trump Says It's 'Now Off the Table'

Pro-settler Ambassador Friedman argues 'it's not off the table permanently' after historic agreement to normalize relations between Israel and the UAE

Noa Landau
Reuters
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President Donald Trump during a White House briefing, August 14, 2020.
President Donald Trump during a White House briefing, August 14, 2020. Credit: Andrew Harnik/AP
Noa Landau
Reuters

U.S. President Donald Trump said Thursday night that Israel made a 'great concession' by agreeing to suspend West Bank annexation as part of its agreement to normalize relations with the United Arab Emirates, adding that for now 'it's off the table.'

Earlier on Thursday, Israel and the UAE reached a historic peace deal on that would lead to a full normalization of diplomatic relations between the two Middle Eastern nations in an agreement that Trump helped broker.

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"Israel agreed not to annex parts of the West Bank. It is more than taking it off the table – they agreed not to do it. This is a very smart concession by Israel. It is off the table now," Trump said during a White House briefing.

This comes in contrast to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's earlier remarks that annexation is "still on the table," and that it is a pledge the prime minister said he is "committed to."

In addition, an Israeli senior political source said that "Applying sovereignty [to the West Bank] is on the table and we're committed to it. The Trump administration requested to temporarily suspend the announcement [of annexation] to first implement the historic peace agreement with the UAE."   

Asked about Netanyahu's statement that he considers this a 'temporary suspension,' and that the option of annexation will still exist in the future, Trump responded that "Right now it's off the table, I can't talk about sometime in the future, that's a big statement, but right now it's off the table."

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, however, said that "it's off the table now but it's not off the table permanently. You can't have peace and annexation at the same time."

Speaking in a televised speech earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu said that "Today marks a new era in Israel’s relations with the Arab world" and that the two countries agreed on "a full, formal peace." 

"For years, Israel has been portrayed as an enemy…now more countries will join us in this circle of peace," the prime minister said.

He added that annexation is "still on the table," and that it is a promise Netanyahu said he is "committed to."

"Extending sovereignty will be done only alongside the United States," Netanyahu said. "Without coordination, in the best case, will do nothing, and in the worst case, will harm relations between us. The United States asked that Israel temporarily postpone annexation."

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