US will not consent to West Bank annexation ‘for some time,’ Jared Kushner says


(JTA) — Israel will not move forward with its West Bank annexation plan without U.S. approval — and that consent won’t come for some time.

That’s what Jared Kushner, a senior adviser to President Donald Trump, told reporters from Middle East media outlets on Monday. Kushner said the Trump administration had gained Israel’s trust by moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and thus Israel will honor its commitment not to advance its idea to annex parts of the West Bank.

“That land is land that right now that Israel, quite frankly, controls,” Kushner said. “Israelis that live there aren’t going anywhere. There shouldn’t be any urgency to applying Israeli law.”

Kushner said the focus now has to be on implementing the peace agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates that was announced on Thursday. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to suspend annexation as part of the deal.

Kushner called on the Palestinians to take advantage of the suspension and return to peace negotiations with Israel.

He said he expects that other Arab states will open official diplomatic ties with Israel in the near future, in part because they are realizing Iran is the region’s main problem.

In a statement issued Sunday, Netanyahu said the UAE agreement is different from previous deals because it is based on “peace for peace” and “peace through strength” rather than land for peace.

“This peace was not achieved because Israel weakened itself by withdrawing to the 1967 lines. It was achieved because Israel strengthened itself by cultivating a free economy, and military and technological strength, and by combining these two strengths to achieve unprecedented international influence,” the prime minister said.

Netanyahu said the deal flies in the face of the concept that “no Arab country would agree to make an official and open peace with Israel before a conclusion was achieved in the conflict with the Palestinians.”

He added that the Trump peace plan “has not changed,” including the plan to annex parts of the West Bank.

“President Trump is committed to it and I am committed to conducting negotiations on this basis,” Netanyahu said.

Also Monday, the Oman Foreign Affairs Ministry confirmed that Foreign Minister Yousef bin Alawi spoke by phone with his Israeli counterpart, Gabi Ashkenazi. According to The Times of Israel, they discussed the Israel-UAE agreement and bin Alawi backed new Israeli-Palestinian peace talks and peace in the region between Israel and more Arab nations.

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