US backs Israel’s West Bank annexation plan despite concerns

(190322) — JERUSALEM, March 22, 2019 (Xinhua) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) and U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo attend a press conference in Jerusalem, on March 21, 2019. (Xinhua/JINI/Hadas Parush)

Washington, June 25 (IANS) US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo reiterated his support for Israel’s plan to annex part of the West Bank despite the concerns of the UN, the European Union (EU) and other allies of Washington in the Middle East.

“Decisions about Israelis extending sovereignty to those places are decisions for the Israelis to make,” Pompeo at a press conference at the State Department on Wednesday.

He also said that the Donald Trump administration is “talking to all of the countries in the region about how it is we can manage this process for our end-state objective”, reports Efe news

Pompeo’s remarks came minutes after UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres asked Israel to abandon its plan to annex parts of the West Bank, since executing them would be a “very serious” violation of international law.

Also expressing concerns in recent days have been the top foreign policy representative for the EU, Josep Borrell, as well as Jordan and the United Arab Emirates, who believes that the annexation will destabilize the region.

The possible annexation, which could begin as early as July 1, is contained in the Middle East plan Trump presented in January 2020.

That plan, which was immediately rejected by Palestinian leaders, would allow Israel to annex a large part of the Jordan Valley and 235 of the illegal settlements established in the area by Israeli colonists, meaning that some 30 per cent of Palestinian territory in the West Bank would become Israeli territory, a situation that the UN says would be illegal.

At his press conference, Pompeo alluded to that plan and said that Washington continues to work to make it a reality.

“I regret only that the Palestinian Authority has refused to participate in that,” Pompeo said, adding that “I remain hopeful that in the coming weeks, we can begin to make real progress towards achieving” Trump’s plan.

Since Trump arrived in the White House in January 2017, US relations with the Palestinians have worsened and have been practically non-existent since his decision to transfer the US Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that city as Israel’s capital.

Along with that decision have come others such as revoking the visas of top Palestinian officials and suspending aid to the UN agency for the Palestinian refugees.

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