State Department Denies Netanyahu Discussed Jordan Valley Annexation With Pompeo

YERUSHALAYIM -
Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu shake hands during their meeting in Lisbon Wednesday.

A senior State Department official rejected on Saturday the claim made by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that he discussed the possible annexation of the Jordan Valley and other parts of Yehudah and Shomron with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting between the two in Portugal on Wednesday.

“I can tell you that there was no annexation plan, full or partial, for any part of the West Bank presented by Israel to the United States during the meeting,” Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker told reporters in an official State Department briefing.

“And that has long been the U.S. government position — that the ultimate disposition of territory is to be determined between the parties,” Schenker added.

Netanyahu, speaking at the end of a two-day trip to Portugal where he and Pompeo met, explicitly said that the two discussed the possible annexation plan.

“We discussed the issue of annexation, but we’re not talking about timetables yet,” Netanyahu told reporters in Lisbon after he met with Portuguese Prime Minister Antonio Costa.

Schenker said that “it was a one-on-one [meeting], but I can tell you I spoke with the secretary.”

A spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for clarification following Schenker’s comments.

Last month, Pompeo appeared to pave the way for an Israeli annexation of the Jordan Valley, and possibly other parts of Yehudah and Shomron, when he declared that the administration would no longer consider Jewish towns in Yehudah and Shomron as illegal.