Jun 03, 2020 07:44 UTC
  • Israeli, American officials talk annexation bid amid reports of US intention to slow process

Senior Israeli and US officials have discussed Tel Aviv’s highly controversial scheme to annex parts of the Occupied Palestinian Territory, with reports suggesting that Washington intends to “greatly slow the process” due to a set of domestic issues facing the White House.

According to Press TV, on Monday, Zionist regime’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held a conference call with Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, US West Asia Envoy Avi Berkowitz, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and Israeli Ambassador to Washington Ron Dermer.

“The call was cordial and productive,” a senior White House official claimed. “We do not comment on the substance of private diplomatic conversations.”

Israel’s Channel 13 TV, however, quoted unnamed American sources as saying that US officials were exploring precisely if and how Israel intended to proceed with its unilateral annexation plan and came away from the conversations without a definitive answer.

The report further cited a senior Israeli source as saying that the Americans “want to downplay the enthusiasm” for imminent annexation — “to greatly slow the process” — because the Trump administration is preoccupied, among other matters, with nationwide anti-racism protests as well as the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the accompanying economic fallout.

The talks came hours after Israeli Minister of War Benny Gantz instructed Military Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kochavi to “step up preparations” for the army “ahead of diplomatic efforts on the agenda in the Palestinian arena” — a clear reference to the annexation plot.

Gantz “also updated the chief of staff on advancements on the diplomatic front,” a spokesperson said, without elaborating.

The Israeli minister’s office said he planned to appoint a point-person to coordinate between the different administration bodies involved in the process, adding, “A joint team will be formed that will bring together recommendations — on an operational level — for the efforts that are on the agenda for the West Bank and Gaza Strip.”