WASHINGTON — US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi spoke out Thursday against Israel’s plans to annex parts of the West Bank, saying it would damage American interests in the Middle East.
“Unilateral annexation puts the future at risk and undermines US national security interests and decades of bipartisan policy,” she told members of the Jewish Democratic Council of America during a Zoom teleconference.
“We always want it to be bipartisan,” added Pelosi, a California Democrat. “We’re very concerned about what we see happening in terms of annexation.”
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has pledged to begin unilaterally annexing roughly 30 percent of the West Bank in July, in ostensible compliance with the Trump administration’s Israeli-Palestinian peace proposal.
The prospect of annexation has been condemned by leading Democrats, among them likely presidential contender Joe Biden.
Trump unveiled his plan in January, which envisaged Israel extending sovereignty over settlements and the Jordan Valley, with a Palestinian state in the rest of the West Bank and various land swaps.
While the State Department has said it is ready to recognize Israel’s annexation of parts of the West Bank, an official told The Times of Israel that the step should be “in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump’s Vision.”
The move, if enacted, could be a major turning point in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with Palestinians, foreign leaders, US policymakers and former peace negotiators warning it could severely weaken the prospects of a two-state solution.
Pelosi on Thursday said such a move was “unacceptable” and cited a resolution that was overwhelmingly passed by House Democrats in December opposing annexation and supporting a two-state solution.
It passed mostly on partisan lines — by a vote of 226-188-2 — with the overwhelming support of House Democrats and a few Republicans.
The Democratic leader also criticized the Palestinian Authority for what she characterized as its historical intransigence and unwillingness to meaningfully engage in peace talks.
“Let me just say, I’m not a big fan of the Palestinian leadership in terms of their, shall we say, capability, whatever it is, to be a good negotiating partner,” she said. “I wish they would do better. But I think that everyone can be doing better”
In the Thursday call, Pelosi also took aim at US President Donald Trump, whom she blamed for rising anti-Semitism in the United States. The Anti-Defamation League released data last month that showed more anti-Semitic incidents in 2019 than any other year over the last four decades.
“He created a climate where this behavior is more acceptable,” Pelosi stated, adding that anti-Semitic episodes were happening under the president’s “acquiescence.”
“The idea that there would still be anti-Semitism is something so shocking,” she said. “But we should probably never be surprised.”