By Ruthie Blum, Israel Hayom—
US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s upcoming visit to Jerusalem this week – to “meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Speaker of the Knesset Benny Gantz … to discuss and Israeli efforts to fight the COVID-19 pandemic regional security issues related to Iran’s malign influence” – is encouraging.
Though nobody is buying State Department spokeswoman Morgan Ortagus’s above description of the purpose of the trip, which is assumed to be aimed at ironing out details of Israel’s intention to begin extending sovereignty over the Jordan Valley and parts of Judea and Samaria, few cast aspersions on the next part of her May 8 press release.
“The US commitment to Israel has never been stronger than under President Trump’s leadership,” it reads. “The United States and Israel will face threats to the security and prosperity of our peoples together. In challenging times, we stand by our friends, and our friends stand by us.”
Nevertheless, Israeli right-wingers, such as members of Naftali Bennett’s Yamina Party, are wary. This is not because they doubt the sincerity of the current administration in Washington. On the contrary, they acknowledge that it has made good on US President Donald Trump’s many pre- and post-election promises to the Jewish state.
These include moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem; recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawing from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal; recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights; halting funding to UNRWA, demanding that the Palestinian Authority cease its pay-for-slay policy; declaring that Israeli settlements are not illegal; and never calling Israel to task for defending itself through strikes on targets in Gaza and Syria.
What Bennett and the bulk of his supporters fear is the part of Trump’s “Peace to Prosperity” plan that provides for the establishment of a Palestinian state. This trepidation seemed to increase last week, following an interview that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman gave to the Israel Hayom newspaper.
In answer to the question of whether the White House would greenlight the immediate application of Israeli sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria, Friedman was vague about a timetable. He also set certain conditions for the move.
“ we have a conceptual map – it’s conceptual,” he said. “It’s impossible to declare sovereignty from something that was so lacking in details … When the mapping is done, and when the government of Israel agrees freeze the part of construction in Area C that’s not set for sovereignty – make it available for four years – and when the prime minister agrees negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump peace plan, which he’s already agreed to do, … we will recognize … sovereignty over the area that the plan contemplates as part of Israel.’ ” Continue Reading….