Netanyahu Denies Kushner Claim That He Surprised Trump With Annexation Bid

Then-President Donald Trump meets with then-Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu meet at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in 2018. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Likud leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu denied that his plans to annex parts of Yehudah and Shomron were not coordinated with the Trump administration, as argued by a former senior adviser to the President, Jared Kushner, in an excerpt from his upcoming memoir.

“The allegation that Prime Minister Netanyahu surprised Jared Kushner and [former] President [Donald] Trump by announcing Israel’s intention to apply Israeli law to the 30% of Yehudah and Shomron envisioned in the Trump plan as sovereign Israeli territory is completely false,” a spokesperson for Netanyahu said on Thursday.

Immediately after the Trump administration presented its “Vision for Peace” in Jan. 2020, Netanyahu said he would bring the extension of Israeli sovereignty to parts of Yehudah and Shomron to a Cabinet vote the following week. Then-U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the press that Israel can start work towards annexation the moment it completes its internal process.

Kushner wrote in Breaking History: A White House Memoir that he and Trump were surprised by those statements: “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.”

In Friedman’s book, Sledgehammer, released earlier in 2022, the ambassador similarly wrote that he did not know that Netanyahu would be annexing the Jordan Valley. When the three held a “difficult and unpleasant meeting” soon after, Kushner said he thought the process of mapping out the areas to be annexed would take some time; Netanyahu said no further mapping was necessary for the Jordan Valley. Kushner said “we never discussed that,” and Friedman wrote that “everyone was telling the truth.”

Netanyahu, however, said that he and Trump exchanged letters on the day before the ceremony unveiling the Trump peace plan.

“President Trump’s letter made clear that the U.S. would support Israel’s declaration of sovereignty over this territory and Prime Minister Netanyahu’s letter made clear that Israel would move forward with a declaration regarding sovereignty ‘in the coming days,’” Netanyahu’s spokesman said.

The former Prime Minister went to Washington to accept the Trump peace plan “on the basis of these understandings, painstakingly negotiated over several months,” his spokesman said.

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