The United States is ready to acknowledge Israel’s sovereignty in the occupied West Bank within coming weeks, Anadolu Agency reported US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, as saying on Wednesday.
In an interview with Israel Hayom newspaper on the second anniversary of moving the US Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Friedman said prior steps need to be completed first before the recognition.
“Washington does not plan to impose any new conditions for the move,” he said.
Friedman said the US will recognise the Israeli sovereignty after steps are taken, including the completion of mapping, halting Israeli settlements construction in Area C — which is excluded from the annexation — and when Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians according to the US peace plan, a matter Netanyahu has already agreed to.
“It’s not the US that is declaring sovereignty but the Israeli government. Once it does, the US is ready to recognise it,” he said.
Israel is expected to carry out the annexation on July 1, as agreed between Netanyahu and head of Blue and White party Benny Gantz, both of whom currently forming a unity government.
Meanwhile, an Israeli-American commission is also working on maps of annexation which the US is due to recognise.
Most of the settlements that Israel intend to annex are located in Area C which forms around 60 per cent of the West Bank and is under the Israeli control.
US President Donald Trump’s so-called “deal of the century” plan was announced Jan 28. It refers to Jerusalem as “Israel’s undivided capital” and recognises Israeli sovereignty over large parts of the West Bank.
The plan states the establishment of a Palestinian state in the form of an archipelago connected by bridges and tunnels.
Palestinian officials say that under the US plan, Israel will annex 30-40 per cent of the West Bank, including all of East Jerusalem.
The plan has drawn widespread criticism from the Arab world and was rejected by the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), which urged “all member states not to engage with this plan or to cooperate with the US administration in implementing it in any form.”