Israeli opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday rejected claims by former White House senior adviser Jared Kushner that Netanyahu’s stated plans to extend sovereignty to Judea and Samaria in 2020 had not been coordinated with the US.
“The claim that Prime Minister Netanyahu surprised Jared Kushner and [former] Chairman [Donald] Trump announcing Israel’s intention to apply Israeli law to the 30 percent of Judea and Samaria envisioned in the Trump plan as sovereign Israeli territory is completely false. Jerusalem Post refers Netanyahu’s spokesman said.
Both Trump and Kushner were reportedly angered by former Netanyahu’s “surprise” announcement that Israel would annex large swaths of Judea and Samaria, Kushner reportedly wrote in his new book. Breaking History: A White House Memoir.
As Breitbart News reported at the time, Netanyahu said in January 2020 — shortly after Trump’s peace plan was unveiled — that he intended to consider annexing Judea and Samaria, including the strategic settlements of the Jordan Valley region.
In Kushner’s new book, Breaking History: A White House Memoirclaims that then-US ambassador to Israel David Friedman wrongly told Netanyahu that the Trump administration would support annexation, according the Times of Israel.
Americans were reportedly surprised by Netanyahu’s announcement that he would soon bring a sovereignty vote to the cabinet soon after unveiling the peace plan known as “Vision for Peace.”
Shortly after Netanyahu’s announcement, Trump reportedly asked his advisers, “What the hell was that?”
Then-ambassador to Israel David Friedman informed reporters that Israel would soon begin advancing sovereignty plans. However, according to veteran Israeli journalist Barak Ravid, Kushner and Trump were furious with Friedman and Netanyahu for not discussing the matter with them before the announcement.
“As it turned out, Friedman had assured Bibi that he would get the White House to support annexation more immediately. He had not conveyed this to me or anyone on my team,” Kushner wrote.
The bottom line is that Israel’s former prime minister nearly torpedoed the Abraham Accords – something Netanyahu strongly rejects.
Judea and Samaria, also known as the West Bank, was seized by Israel from Jordan in a defensive war in 1967 after Jordan began shelling Israeli targets in West Jerusalem, defying Israel’s behind-the-scenes calls to stay out of the conflict.
After attempts at peaceful land swaps failed, many on Israel’s right argued that Israel should annex the territory—that is, apply Israeli law to it—either in part or in whole. Netanyahu, who faces several tough elections in 2019-20, wanted to do so.
But President Donald Trump wanted to achieve a regional peace deal, and leaders of Arab states such as the United Arab Emirates made it clear that if Israel annexed Judea and Samaria, it would jeopardize their ability to strike a deal.
Ironically, the possibility of annexation created a bargaining chip that Israel and the US could then trade for peace after Emirati ambassador Yousef al Otaiba published an article in an Israeli newspaper saying annexation would endanger the peace.
The implication was that non-annexation could bring about the peace deal Trump had proposed — and it did.