The Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal will provide for all Israeli settlements to remain under Israeli rule in any permanent peace accord, and the administration will not oppose the extension of Israeli law to all West Bank settlements, an Israeli TV report claimed Sunday.
Some 400,000 Israeli Jews live in West Bank settlements, and the Trump plan will recognize that all those Israeli-settled areas “will remain in Israeli hands under a permanent accord,” the Channel 12 report said.
To that end, the report said, “the Americans will not oppose Israeli steps relating to the settlements.” Specifically, while the US will not explicitly back the formal “extension of Israeli sovereignty” to the settlements, or their “annexation,” the report said, it will not object to the “extension of Israeli law” to the settlements.
In the run up to last month’s elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised several times to variously “apply Israeli sovereignty” and/or “extend Israeli law” to all the settlements, and said he hoped he would be able to do so with American support. Sunday’s TV report said that were Israel to extend Israeli law to all the settlements, the US “won’t oppose, or will be okay with, or won’t make a fuss about” such a move.
Netanyahu is now expected to go ahead with just such a process, the TV report noted.
The report was unsourced, and did not include an American response. Administration officials have repeatedly dismissed ostensible leaks about the content of the plan in recent months as unfounded and unreliable.
By way of precedent, Israel in 1981 extended Israeli law to the Golan Heights, captured from Syria in 1967. Seven weeks ago at a White House ceremony, with Netanyahu at his side, US President Donald Trump signed a proclamation declaring it “appropriate to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights” and that “the United States recognizes that the Golan Heights are part of the State of Israel.”
The administration is set to publish its Israeli-Palestinian proposal next month, after Netanyahu puts together the multi-party coalition he is currently seeking to arrange. Trump’s senior White House adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner has indicated that the plan will address all the core “final status” issues and serve as a detailed “starting point” for resolving the conflict. He has also indicated that it will not provide for a two-state solution — the traditional basis for attempts to resolve the conflict.
Sunday’s report said that under the Trump plan, major Palestinian cities and population centers in the West Bank would remain under Palestinian control.
The Palestinian Authority has preemptively rejected the plan, which it has described as an effort by the US to compel the Palestinians to “surrender” their rights. The PA has been boycotting the Trump administration since it recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in December 2017.
In the days just before his April 9 election win, Netanyahu vowed to extend Israeli sovereignty to all the settlements — both major blocs and minor outposts — and flatly ruled out Palestinian statehood, which he said would “endanger our existence.”
“I am going to apply Israeli sovereignty, but I don’t distinguish between settlement blocs and isolated settlements,” he told Channel 12 on April 6. “From my perspective, each of those settlement points is Israeli. We have responsibility [for them] as the government of Israel. I don’t uproot any, and I won’t transfer them to the sovereignty of the Palestinians. I take care of them all.”
That promise came a day after he told Channel 13 news that he had told Trump he would not evacuate “a single person” from any of the settlements.
Trump’s recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights had prompted Netanyahu to look into settlement annexation, sources close to Netanyahu said at the time. The timing of such a move, they said said, would follow Trump’s presentation of his peace plan.
If the Palestinian Authority, as expected, rejects the Trump proposal, and Netanyahu says yes to it with certain reservations, the prime minister believes Trump “would give him backing and legitimization to annex or extend Israeli law to all West Bank settlements or at least some of the blocs,” the sources told Channel 13 at the time.
In an interview with Channel 13, he called Trump, “the best friend Israel has had” in the White House, and said the president respects his position, “as I respect his,” when he insists on something.
Over 400,000 Jews live in West Bank settlements. Another 200,000-plus live in East Jerusalem neighborhoods annexed by Israel after the 1967 war.
The prime minister’s stance flies in the face of Palestinian demands for statehood in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Netanyahu has taken an increasingly hard line against Palestinian statehood, having accepted the idea in principle in a 2009 speech.