UK warned it would recognize Palestine if Israel annexed West Bank, book reveals

The UK Ambassador to the US warned the Trump administration in June 2020 that if Israel continued with its plans to annex large parts of the West Bank, London would officially recognize the State of Palestine, a new book revealed .

The message was delivered by Karen Pierce during a meeting she held with US President Donald Trump’s Middle East Peace Envoy Avi Berkowitz and Iranian Special Envoy Brian Hook on June 12. 2020, wrote Israeli journalist Barak Ravid in his book “Trump’s Peace”.

Berkowitz and Hook were sent to meet Pierce by Jared Kushner, then a senior White House adviser. As the Trump administration was inundated with calls from world leaders warning the United States not to allow then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to move forward with plans to start annexing parts of the West Bank on July 1, 2020, it was the UK’s response that went further and was most surprising to Americans, according to the book.

Ravid speculated that the UK recognizing Palestine would likely have led other countries in Europe like France and Spain to do the same – a domino effect of Palestinian Authority legitimacy that Israel has long feared.

Netanyahu announced his intention to annex large parts of the West Bank in early 2020, apparently under the auspices of the Trump peace plan – although Ravid reported that the administration was caught off guard by the move and took to it. is strongly opposed.

The book suggests that while Kushner was not in favor of the annexation decision, the feeling within the administration at the time was that there was no way to stop Netanyahu from making it happen.

A day before his meeting with Pierce, Berkowitz met a group of senior German diplomats who expressed their total opposition to the annexation plan. “I told them, go see the Palestinians and tell them the annexation is moving forward. Ask them what they want us to try to get for them in return, ”Berkowitz recalled in Ravid’s book.

Ramallah had severed ties with Washington years earlier after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Illustration: Then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at an event with then-US President Donald Trump in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, January 28 2020, to announce the Trump administration’s long-awaited plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. (AP Photo / Alex Brandon)

Ravid’s book revealed how strongly Trump opposes Netanyahu’s annexation plans.

According to Ravid, Trump’s ambassador to Israel David Friedman had encouraged the Netanyahu government to annex parts of the West Bank, without carrying out the president’s plan or Kushner’s plan – both of whom were opposed to the idea.

Trump’s Peace, by Barak Ravid

With Friedman’s backing in mind, Netanyahu announced his annexation plans during Trump’s peace plan unveiling ceremony at the White House in January 2020.

Trump and the architect of the peace plan, Kushner, were completely caught off guard by Netanyahu’s statement, according to the book.

The Trump peace plan called for Israel to annex all of its settlements as well as the Jordan Valley as part of a final status agreement. But he did not give a clear timeline, and he did not stipulate that the move would take place from the start, as Netanyahu had planned to do.

Annexation never took place. In the days and weeks that followed, the United States’ negotiations with the United Arab Emirates advanced in a way that allowed Kushner to offer Israel normalization with the United Arab Emirates in return for abandonment. by Netanyahu of his annexation plans – an offer the ex-prime minister ultimately accepted.

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