The office of US President Donald Trump Monday publicly shamed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for claiming he had discussed with the Trump administration an initiative pushing settlement policies further into the West Bank.
The rebuke came from White House spokesperson Josh Raffel who noted that Netanyahu’s claims were false.
“Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false,” Raffel said.
“The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.”
The Israeli Prime Minister hours earlier told a faction of his Likud party that he had been in talks with the Trump administration on plans to “annex Israeli settlement areas over the Green Line, the West Bank”.
“I can tell you that for a while now I’ve been talking about it with the Americans,” he has reportedly said.
“I’m guided by two principles in this issue … optimal coordination with the Americans, whose relationship with us is a strategic asset for Israel and the settlement movement; and the fact that it must be a government initiative rather than a private one because it would be a historic move,” he was quoted by Times of Israel as saying.
Netanyahu’s comments were in sharp contrast with President Trump who on Sunday noted that Israel’s settlement scheme in the Palestinian territories jeopardizes peace effort and that he is not sure the Jewish state is keen for peace with Palestinians.
The American administration has been struggling to get Palestinians onboard over its efforts to bring the two feuding sides to peace talks. Palestinians have rejected US-led approaches after President Trump in December declared Jerusalem capital of Israel.
Israel has found a pillar supporter in the Trump administration, which has closed eyes on its occupation project of the West Bank – a move many believe kills the two-state solution proposed by the international community.
Netanyahu also received domestic criticism for his comments that have been viewed as lies to the nation. A top Israeli diplomat on condition of anonymity debunked the Prime Minister noting that the US administration was not informed about any annexation plan in the West Bank and did not offer any support.
Netanyahu’s office tried to correct the mistake following Raffel’s flat denial.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu updated the Americans on initiatives being presented in the Knesset, the Americans stated their unequivocal view that they are committed to furthering President Trump’s peace plan,” the statement said, according to the Times of Israel.