Trump aide: Concerns over occupied West Bank annexation overblown

Kellyanne Conway has played down condemnation of Israel’s plan to annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank.

White House counsellor Kellyanne Conway has characterised concerns over Israel’s plan to annex parts of the occupied West Bank and Jordan Valley as overblown.

Beginning as soon as July 1, the government of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said it will begin to annex illegally built Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move detailed in the “Middle East plan” proposed by US President Donald Trump in January. 

Conway, responding to questions from Al Jazeera on Wednesday on the White House lawn, said Trump aides were currently discussing whether the president should give Netanyahu the green light on the plan. She added Trump would be making a “big announcement” soon. 

Meanwhile, Conway played down the reactions from regional Arab countries and Palestinians, who have roundly condemned the move, saying it would kill the prospects of a future Palestinian state.  

Conway compared the situation to Trump’s controversial decision to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem in 2017, as well as his decision to withdraw the US from climate change reduction commitments in the Paris Accord that same year, suggesting that regional and international concerns over those actions have not borne out.

“The same thing was predicted. That there would be mayhem and murder and death and destruction … When he pulled out of the Paris Accord, we’re all going to die the next day, we’re going to melt to death,” she said. “He moves the embassy to Jerusalem, the Arab world was going to disappear. Thank God that wasn’t true.”

“There’s always this scare tactic, shock the conscious tactic of all the bad that’s going to happen, and then it doesn’t happen,” she said.

Conway made the comments as the United Nations Security Council met to discuss the plans, with Secretary-General Antonio Guterres telling members “annexation would constitute a most serious violation of international law”.

The West Bank, including occupied East Jerusalem, is seen as occupied territory under international law, making all Jewish settlements there – as well as the planned annexation – illegal.

Meanwhile, more than 1,000 European parliamentarians have denounced Israel’s plan, calling it “fatal to the prospects of Israeli-Palestinian peace”.

Palestinian officials have threatened to abolish bilateral agreements with Israel if it goes ahead with the annexation.

However, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo defended Israel’s plan on Wednesday, saying on “extending sovereignty to other places are decisions for the Israelis to make”.

Source: Al Jazeera