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Clashing Narratives on West Bank Between Washington and Jerusalem

Opposition lawmakers criticize handling of foreign affairs

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13 Feb 2018 (All day)
Clashing Narratives on West Bank Between Washington and Jerusalem
White House spokesman Josh Raffel issued a statement on Monday that “Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false. The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative.” This was a flat repudiation of a statement a few hours earlier by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“On the subject of applying sovereignty [to settlements in Area C], I can say that I have been talking to the Americans about it for some time,” Netanyahu said at a meeting of his Likud faction. The comments came amidst an increase in pressure by many members of the governing coalition to move towards annexation.

Hours after the White House statement, a senior Likud official attempted to clarify that Netanyahu “did not present the US with any specific annexation plan, and the US did not give its consent to any such proposal. Prime Minister Netanyahu’s position is that if the Palestinians continue to refuse to hold peace talks, Israel will present its own alternative.”

The Prime Minister’s Office added that “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu updated the Americans with regard to legislative initiatives in the Knesset. The US expressed its unequivocal position that they were committed to advancing US President [Donald] Trump’s peace plan.”

The conflicting statements in Washington and Jerusalem set off a firestorm of tweets by opposition lawmakers denigrating Netanyahu and the governing coalition he leads.

In related news, a piece of legislation designating Ariel University as being under the authority of the Council of Higher Education passed the Knesset Monday evening. The bill was described by analysts as a symbolic step towards the goal of annexation, or as critics call it, “creeping annexation” of the West Bank by Israel.

Tillerson Addresses Battle Against IS
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson spoke to a gathering of allies in Kuwait on Tuesday, saying  "The end of major combat operations does not mean we have achieved the enduring defeat of ISIS. ISIS remains a serious threat to the stability of the region, our homelands, and other parts of the globe." His remarks come on the heels of a trip to Egypt in which he declared the Trump Administration’s staunch support for Cairo’s fight against terrorist factions in the Sinai Peninsula.

Here is a video of Tillerson’s remarks in Cairo

Grossman Awarded Israel Prize in Literature
David Grossman, one of contemporary Israel’s most widely read authors, has been awarded the 2018 Israel Prize for Hebrew literature and poetry by the Education Ministry. “In his novels, books, essays, documentary writing, in his extensive creations for children, he presented a series of masterpieces that excel in rich imagination, deep wisdom, human sensitivity, a poignant moral stand and a unique and resonant language,” the Education Ministry said.

IDF Soldiers Attacked After Mistakenly Entering Central Jenin
Two Israeli soldiers mistakenly entered the center of the West Bank city of Jenin in a military vehicle Monday evening and were set upon by a large crowd of angry Palestinian residents who attacked their vehicle with rocks and other crude weapons. The soldiers were eventually extricated by Palestinian Authority police and handed over to Israel’s civil administration, but not before both were wounded and a personal weapon one was carrying was stolen.

“Almost all of the different security forces in Jenin, including the police, the national security forces, intelligence and others, were ordered to take to the streets and ensure the well-being of the soldiers,” the security official told The Jerusalem Post in a phone interview. “First, we intervened because we do not want anyone to die, regardless of their background. We believe that protecting the soldiers was a humanitarian issue. Second, we want to protect our people. If the soldiers were, God forbid, killed, the Israeli army would wreak havoc in Jenin. We have no interest in returning to the days of the Second Intifada.”

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