Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman attends the Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee meeting at the Knesset, on March 6. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Annexing West Bank will lead to ‘crisis’ with Trump administration, Liberman warns


Annexing the West Bank will lead to a “crisis” with the Trump administration, Israel’s Defense Minister warned.

“I am saying it as clearly as possible: We received a direct message from the United States saying that Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration,” Avigdor Liberman said Monday during an appearance  before the Knesset’s Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.

Liberman called on the ruling government coalition led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “clarify very clearly, there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty.” Liberman is due to meet with top U.S. administration officials this week in Washington.

The warning came in response to an interview over the weekend with Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar, who told the Israeli news channel i24 News that a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is no longer possible.

“The two-state solution is dead,” Zohar said. “What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset. They will get all of the rights like every citizen except voting for the Knesset.”

Liberman said the interview raised red flags around the world. “I’m getting calls from all of the world wanting to know if this is the position of the coalition,” he told the Knesset committee. “As far as my opinion is concerned, we need to separate from the Palestinians and not to integrate them. The decision to annex Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) would mean the integration of 2.7 million Palestinians in Israel.”

U.S. President Donald Trump has not called specifically for a two-state solution to the Israel-Palestinian conflict. When asked about the topic last month during a news conference in Washington with Netanyahu, Trump said: “I like the one the two parties like … I can live with either one.”

Trump’s position diverges with that of previous U.S. presidents, who said two states was the only viable solution for resolving the conflict.

Knesset committee rejects law to annex settlements


A bill aimed at applying Israeli law on West Bank settlements was rejected by a Knesset committee.

The bill proposed to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation by Likud lawmaker Miri Regev would have removed Israeli settlements from military rule and effectively annexed them.

In Sunday’s vote, nine lawmakers opposed the bill—including most of the committee’s Likud members—and five abstained in an unexpected turnaround of several members who had originally said they would support the bill. They reportedly changed their votes after Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman asked Regev to postpone the vote, and after learning that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu planned to vote against the bill.

Netanyahu reportedly did not want to go head to head with the Obama administration over the settlements at this time.

The bill can be resubmitted in six months.

Knesset to vote on annexing West Bank


The Knesset will vote on a bill calling for full Israeli annexation of the West Bank.

Deputy Speaker Danny Danon announced Tuesday that the Knesset will take up the bill, which he authored, at the end of October.

The bill also nullifies any financial obligations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority that had been established by previous agreements, according to a statement from Danon’s office.

“If the Palestinian Authority wishes to proceed on this reckless path and bring further instability to the region, Israel cannot continue to pour funds into this sinking ship of failed leadership,” Danon said, referring to the PA’s statehood bid at the United Nations last Friday.

“The funding agreements with the PA were reached with the hope that their leaders would work to create an environment of lasting peace and security with Israel. Given that it is clear that the Palestinians have no such desire, Israel must no longer be required to stand by these arrangements.”

The bill also nullifies the Oslo Accords, since it reads that “All obligations between the State of Israel and the Palestinian Authority as established by international agreements … will be considered null and void.”

It was submitted in line with a similar initiative in the U.S. Congress offered by Rep. Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), which calls for supporting Israel’s rights to annex the West Bank should the Palestinian Authority move forward with its statehood bid without negotiating.

Meanwhile, a letter signed by the leaders of four ruling coalition factions—Likud Party chairman Ze’ev Elkin, Shas chairman Avraham Michaeli, Habayit Hayehudi chairman Uri Orbach, and National Union leader Yaakov Katz—asks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to annex Jewish-settled areas of the West Bank and calls for increased construction in those areas.

The letter also calls for additional sanctions against the Palestinians and not allowing any country that cooperates with their statehood bid to mediate future peace talks.