The White House is expected to hold a meeting on Monday or Tuesday to decide whether to approve of Netanyahu’s plans to extend Israeli sovereignty on parts of the West Bank, Channel 13 reports, citing US and Israeli officials.
US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, and Donald Trump’s envoy for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process, Avi Berkowitz, are both expected to attend. Other participants will be Jared Kushner, the key architect of US President Donald Trump’s peace plan and his son-in-law, as well as Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and National Security Advisor Richard O'Brien. Trump is likely to take part, too, according to the report.
The Trump administration appears to be divided on the issue: while Friedman supports the plans, Mike Pompeo has urged Israel to go slowly so as not to hurt the chances for lasting peace. It is claimed that Kushner does not oppose the idea but neither does he want Israel to make a move that would hurt the prospects of advancing his peace plan.
Under a coalition agreement with his rival Benny Gantz, Netanyahu has secured the right to put the plan into action starting from 1 July. The US peace plan allows Israel to seize about 30 percent of West Bank territory, including all Israeli settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley. It would leave the remaining 70 percent for Palestinians to have some autonomy, but not the fully sovereign state they have long sought.
A separate report by Channel 13 said that Netanyahu is exploring multiple scenarios, under which Israel would take over anything from 30 percent of the West Bank to just a small piece of land in what would be a largely symbolic gesture.
Palestinians have strongly opposed any territorial gains by Israel. They argue that this would lead to a Palestinian state being pock-marked with enclaves under Israeli military control, effectively killing the two-state solution.
Neighbouring Jordan, as well as the European Union, Russia and the United Nations have all spoken out against the plan, warning that it would lead to more violence in the region. The Palestinian Authority has announced that mass rallies will begin across the West Bank on Monday.