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Netanyahu 'in talks with US' over annexing Israeli settlements

The Israeli premier made the comments during a faction meeting of his Likud party. [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 February, 2018

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Netanyahu said he has been in talks with the Trump administration 'for some time' over a move to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Monday he has been in talks with the Trump administration "for some time" over a move to annex illegal Israeli settlements in the occupied Palestinian West Bank.

The Israeli premier made the comments during a faction meeting of his right-wing Likud party.

"Regarding the issue of expanding Israeli sovereignty, I can tell you that for some time I've been maintaining a dialogue with the Americans on this issue," Netanyahu said, according to Israeli media reports.

"I'm guided by two principles in this issue… optimal coordination with the Americans, whose relations with us are a strategic asset for Israel and the settlements, and it must be a government initiative rather than a private one because it would be a historic move," he added.

His remarks come as debate continues within Netanyahu's coalition over a proposed bill to annex Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Netanyahu on Sunday pulled the so-called Sovereignty Bill – drafted by Likud MP Yoav Kisch and Jewish Home MP Bezalel Smotrich – from the agenda of an upcoming ministerial meeting.

A spokesman for a senior member of the Ministerial Committee for Legislation said last week that Netanyahu dropped the legislation from its agenda to provide time to coordinate the proposal with Washington, The Times of Israel reported.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli President Reuven Rivlin reaffirmed his personal support for annexing the occupied West Bank.

"All my life I have believed that all the Land of Israel is ours," Rivlin told a conference in Jerusalem, according to Maariv newspaper.

"I am in favour of extending sovereignty, on the condition of equal rights for all of the residents of the area," he added.

Israel occupied the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in the Six-Day War of 1967. It later annexed East Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the international community.

Israeli settlements are deemed illegal under international law and widely seen as the main obstacle to peace.

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