Israel to annex parts of the West Bank 'within weeks' and US 'ready to recognise'

Israel to annex parts of the West Bank 'within weeks' and US 'ready to recognise'
Israel will finish mapping the areas of the occupied West Bank it plans to annex 'in the coming weeks', US Ambassador David Friedman said.
2 min read
06 May, 2020
Israel will finish mapping its annexation plans within weeks, the ambassador said [Getty]
Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank within the coming weeks, the US envoy to Israel said on Wednesday. 

US Ambassador David Friedman to Israel said that Washington would be "ready to recognise" the annexation of the Palestinian lands once the Israeli government had "declared sovereignty" over them.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revealed its long-anticipated "Deal of the Century" plan to counter the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The deal backs Israel's annexation of more than a third of the occupied West Bank, including illegal settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley.

Israel in February began mapping the areas it seeks to seize control of as part of the plan, and is expected to finish that mapping process in the coming weeks, Friedman told Israel Hayom

"The most important element is that the Israeli government must declare sovereignty. Israel needs first to declare it - and then we will be ready to recognise it," Friedman said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Israel's government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is required to meet two conditions before Washington backs its annexation drive, one of which has already been met, the ambassador added.

Read more: The day after annexation: Israel, Palestine and the one-state reality

"When the mapping process ends, and once the Israeli government agrees to freeze construction in parts of [the West Bank] not designated for [Israeli] sovereignty, and when the prime minister agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan - and he has already agreed to that this Sunday - we will recognise Israeli sovereignty," Friedman was quoted as saying by i24 News

Initial maps released by the White House as part of its peace proposal indicated plans for Israel to annex all Israeli settlements and the fertile Jordan Valley, which makes up around a third of the occupied West Bank. It also includes plans to give Palestine control of a slim stretch of the arid Negev desert alongside the border with Egypt.

The so-called "Deal of the Century" envisioned an Israeli capital in "unified" Jerusalem, with a neutered Palestinian statelet granted a sliver of the outskirts of east Jerusalem for its own capital. 

The demilitarised Palestinian statelet would lack territorial continuity entirely and instead be linked by special roads and tunnels, according to initial plans. 

The plan has been widely condemned by the rest of the international community, with many comparing it to the bantustans created under the Apartheid regime in South Africa.

Initial plans released by the White House earlier this year [Click to enlarge]

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