Three days of White House meetings between aides to United States President Donald Trump on whether to give Israel a green light to annex parts of the occupied West Bank have ended without any final decision, senior US officials said on Thursday.
The high-level discussions centred on Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s plan to extend Israeli sovereignty over Jewish settlements in the occupied territory, which has drawn condemnation from the Palestinians, Arab allies of the US and other foreign governments.
“There is as yet no final decision on the next steps for implementing the Trump plan,” one of the officials told the Reuters news agency, referring to the president’s Israeli-Palestinian peace blueprint that could provide a basis for Netanyahu’s annexation moves.
Trump, who has taken a heavily pro-Israel approach since taking office in January 2017, participated in part of the deliberations, the official told Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity.
Another US official said further analysis and discussions would be needed before making a final US determination. Netanyahu has pledged to begin the annexation process as soon as July 1, when he has scheduled a formal cabinet session on implementation.
Under Trump’s peace proposal unveiled in January and met with widespread scepticism, the US would recognise the Jewish settlements – built on land the Palestinians seek for a state – as part of Israel.
The proposal would create a Palestinian state but impose strict conditions. Palestinian leaders have dismissed the initiative and it has gone nowhere.
Netanyahu intends to launch his project of extending sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley, hoping for US approval. Most countries view Israel’s settlements as illegal, and the Palestinians have voiced outrage at annexation.