image Photo: Flash90 & Reuters

Pompeo: Israel free to annex West Bank

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo revealed that Washington grants Jerusalem freedom of action regarding potential annexation of the West Bank.

Pompeo made the statement during an interview with the public KAN network shortly before departing from his lightning visit to Israel, where he held separate meetings with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly appointed Defense Minister Benny Gantz.

New guidelines of Israel’s 35th government published last night emphasized primary focus on strategies to combat the coronavirus pandemic and did not cite the assertion of sovereignty over the West Bank, an internationally disputed territory that includes the Jordan Valley and Biblical districts of Judea and Samaria.

The top American diplomat stressed that Jerusalem is free to act as it sees fit on the matter, while simultaneously expressing hope that Ramallah will realize that Washington’s vision for peace is also good for the Palestinians.

When asked about concerns by current and former top Israeli security officials over possible devastating repercussions of annexation – including impact on the peace agreement with the country’s eastern neighbor Jordan; Secretary Pompeo noted that he was not surprised there are differing views about the extension of Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank.

After saying that the expression of opposing opinions on all topics is expected in any democracy, as also seen in the United States, Secretary Pompeo said he is confident that the wide representation of different Israeli sectors in the newly formed unity government will make good decisions on how to carry out its aspired annexation.

In related developments, there have been calls by the European Union to advance punitive measures against Israel aimed at deterring annexation of the West Bank, which many EU members have already designated as land earmarked for a future Palestinian state.