U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Wednesday it was an Israeli decision whether to annex parts of Yehuda and Shomron, and the United States will offer its views on this to the new Israeli government in private.
“As for the annexation of the West Bank, the Israelis will ultimately make those decisions,” Pompeo told reporters. “That’s an Israeli decision. And we will work closely with them to share with them our views of this in a private setting.”
Pompeo also said he was “happy” Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and centrist rival Benny Gantz signed a deal on Monday to form a national emergency government, saying he did not think a fourth Israeli election was in Israel’s interest.
The coalition agreement states that while the new government will strive for peace and regional stability, plans to extend Israeli sovereignty to Jewish communities in Yehuda and Shomron can be advanced from July 1.
Pompeo also talked about aid to the Palestinians to help them deal with the coronavirus. A $5 million grant, already approved, could be followed by more, but he said that would depend on how Palestinian officials use the money.
“We’ll evaluate if those $5 million both worked, delivered and second if there’s more resources that are both either appropriate or can be delivered in a way that actually gets to the Palestinian people,” he said.
Pompeo said he thinks the Palestinians “are going to need a lot of help” getting through the health crisis.
Later in the day, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas said that his administration would regard agreements with Israel and the United States “completely cancelled” if Israel carries out the annexations.
“We have informed the relevant international parties, including the American and the Israeli governments, that we will not stand hand-cuffed if Israel announces the annexation of any part of our land,” Abbas said.
Updated Wednesday, April 22, 2020 at 1:30 pm Abbas comment