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'We have never discussed such a proposal': White House denies settlement annexation talks with Israel Open in fullscreen

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'We have never discussed such a proposal': White House denies settlement annexation talks with Israel

Netanyahu said he had been in talks with Washington about annexing settlements [Getty]

Date of publication: 13 February, 2018

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The White House on Monday flatly denied Israeli claims that talks are underway to annex land claimed by Palestinians, in a rare public show of disunity.

The White House on Monday flatly denied Israeli claims that talks are underway to annex land claimed by Palestinians, in a rare public show of disunity.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said he had been in talks with Washington about annexing settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move that could shatter a peace process that is already on life support.

That was denied by White House spokesman Josh Raffel, who works closely with Jared Kushner.

"Reports that the United States discussed with Israel an annexation plan for the West Bank are false," he said.

"The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the president's focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative."

The comments come after Netanyahu had said on Monday he had been in talks with the Trump administration "for some time" over the 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.

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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