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    A picture taken on April 14, 2016 shows a partial view of the Israeli settlement of Givat Zeev near the West Bank city of Ramallah

    White House: Trump, Netanyahu Never Discussed Israeli Plans to Annex West Bank

    © AFP 2018 / THOMAS COEX
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    TEL AVIV (Sputnik) - Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did not bring forward any specific proposals regarding the possibility of annexing the Jewish settlements in the West Bank in his conversation with the US side, a high-ranking Israeli official said.

    "Israel has informed the United States about the various proposals being discussed in the Knesset. The United States has expressed a clear position on their intention to promote the peace initiative of President [Donald] Trump… The prime minister did not submit any specific proposals to the US side regarding the annexation, and the US administration in any case did not express consent to proposals of this kind," the source told reporters.

    Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. President Donald Trump chat as White House senior advisor Jared Kushner is seen in between them, during their meeting at the King David hotel in Jerusalem May 22, 2017
    © REUTERS / Kobi Gideon/Courtesy of Government Press Office
    Meanwhile, White House spokesman Josh Raffel said on Monday that US President Donald Trump had not discussed with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Israeli plans to annex Jewish settlements in the West Bank.

    "Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” Raffel said. “The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the President’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.”

    However, Netanyahu told Israeli lawmakers earlier on Monday that he and Trump have discussed Israeli legislation that would annex Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to Israeli media reports.

    After the White House denied the reports, Netanyahu's office issued a clarification that appeared to walk back from the original claim, saying, "Netanyahu updated the Americans on the initiatives being raised in the Knesset, and the Americans expressed their unequivocal position that they are committed to advancing President Trump's peace plan."

    The West Bank, unlike East Jerusalem or Golan Heights, is not part of Israel even according to the Israeli legislation. The international community considers these lands to be occupied Palestinian territories.

    Over the decades, Palestinians have been seeking diplomatic recognition for their independent state on the territories of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, which is partially occupied by Israel, and the Gaza Strip. The Israeli government refuses to recognize Palestine as an independent political and diplomatic entity and continues to build settlements in occupied areas, despite objections from the United Nations.

    Israel insists, citing changed demographic realities and security considerations, that it is impossible to discuss the creation of the Palestinian state within the prewar borders of 1967 and is seeking to maintain sovereignty over the main Jewish settlements in the West Bank under any scenario of the conflict settlement with the Palestinians.

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    Tags:
    settlements, demography, expansion, conflict, Benjamin Netanyahu, Donald Trump, Palestine, Israel, West Bank
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