U.S. Officials Warn Against Yesha Council Opposition to Trump’s Plan

YERUSHALAYIM -
General view of Ariel in the Shomron. (Flash90)

When President Donald Trump presented the “Deal of the Century,” with its support for Israel to annex large parts of Yehudah and Shomron and the Jordan Valley, the last thing U.S. officials expected was that this controversial deal would be opposed by leaders within Israel pushing for a Jewish presence in Yehudah and Shomron.

In recent months, a joint American-Israeli committee has been delineating areas designated for sovereignty. This laborious process continued amid the coronavirus pandemic and with Israel trying to form a government. The mapping process is headed by Ronen Peretz, director general of the Prime Minister’s Office.

On the American side, however, voices of frustration are being heard over the opposition to the plan by the Yesha Council – an umbrella organization of municipal councils of Jewish communities in Yehudah and Shomron – which has been trying to persuade right-wing ministers and MKs to oppose the Trump plan.

“If the settlers don’t want what the administration currently has to offer, they shouldn’t come to us in the future,” said one American official familiar with the details to Yisrael Hayom, adding: “The expectation was that they see the bigger picture, remember where they were standing in December 2016 (when the UN Security Council passed a resolution spearheaded by the Obama administration that harmed Israel), and that they consider where they could be standing four years from now if the Palestinians continue to reject negotiations with Israel.”

The move to annex is faced with significant internal and external challenges. A Knesset majority is needed, and since many details are still unknown, many ministers have yet to formulate a position. Most Likud ministers openly support the move, but it could be that more hard-line ministers, such as Ze’ev Elkin or Tzipi Hotovely will either oppose or abstain. And while Prime Minister-designate Benny Gantz views the Trump plan favorably, he hasn’t decided whether to allow members of his of the Blue and White Party faction to vote freely on the issue.

To date, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has yet to present the final map. In fact, only a select few senior Israeli officials are familiar with the details of the initiative. The IDF’s Military Intelligence Directorate, Foreign Ministry and the Mossad intelligence agency still have not presented their assessments.

Russia, most of the European Union and a host of other countries have warned Israel against applying sovereignty to parts of Yehudah and Shomron.