State Department says annexation should be part of peace process with Palestinians


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s annexation of West Bank settlements should be part of negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians as part of the framework of the Trump administration’s peace plan, the State Department said.

State Department spokesperson Morgan Ortagus made the statement during a widely reported conference call with Israeli journalists.

“We really think annexation should be part of a peace process where Palestinians should have a say,” Ortagus said during the call.

Addressing the fact that the Palestinians have thus far refused to return to peace negotiations, Ortagus said, “We’re going to continue to push for this vision for peace that the president has. We have certainly by no means given up hope. In fact, it will continue to be a major part of our foreign policy to press for the Palestinians to come to the table as a part of this peace plan, as a part of this process.”

The call came on Friday, the same day that King Abdullah of Jordan said in an interview published in the German Der Spiegel weekly magazine that “if Israel really annexed the West Bank in July, it would lead to a massive conflict” with his country.

Under the peace plan released by the White House in January, parts of the West Bank adding up to 30 percent of the land would become officially recognized Israeli territory, including eastern Jerusalem. The plan also calls for the establishment of a Palestinian state in parts of the West Bank and Gaza.

The statements came two days after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo made an hours-long visit to Jerusalem. He made no concrete public statements about annexation during the meeting and State Department officials who briefed reporters on the trip back to Washington said he “didn’t travel halfway across the world to discuss annexation.”

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