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US to recognise Israel's sovereignty over West Bank: State Department

Spokesman says annexation would be in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood
Palestinian flag near the Israeli separation wall in the occupied West Bank (Reuters)

The US is prepared to recognise Israel's annexation of much of the occupied West Bank, including the Jordan Valley, as Washington looks to implement President Donald Trump's so-called "deal of the century."

"As we have made consistently clear, we are prepared to recognise Israeli actions to extend Israeli sovereignty and the application of Israeli law to areas of the West Bank that the vision foresees as being part of the State of Israel," a State Department spokeswoman said on Monday.

"The annexation would be in the context of an offer to the Palestinians to achieve statehood based upon specific terms, conditions, territorial dimensions and generous economic support."

This step would be "in the context of the Government of Israel agreeing to negotiate with the Palestinians along the lines set forth in President Trump's Vision," the spokeswoman added.

In January, Trump unveiled his so-called "deal of the century" addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would see Israel take around a third of the West Bank in exchange for recognising a disjointed Palestinian state with no control over its borders or airspace.

Annexation of occupied territory is illegal under international law, and Palestinians have overwhelmingly rejected the proposal.

Annexation: How Israel already controls more than half of the West Bank
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The Palestinian Foreign Ministry strongly condemned the State Department's remarks, saying it reflected an "unqualified US bias to the [Israeli] occupation and its expansionist colonial policies at the expense of the territory of the State of Palestine."

The foreign ministry considers the US position "a flagrant coup against international terms of reference of the peace process, mainly land for peace," it added. 

Earlier this month, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz reached an agreement that paves the way for a unity government and is set to see Israel move forward with annexation.

If approved by Washington, the plan will reportedly be presented to the Israeli parliament to be voted on in July.

Israel has already announced sovereignty over occupied East Jerusalem and the Syrian Golan Heights, in moves never recognised by the international community.

The Trump administration, however, reversed years of Washington diplomatic positions and declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel in 2017, and last year recognised Israeli sovereignty over the Golan.

Last week, the United Nations, the European Union and several European states, including the United Kingdom, Germany and France, warned Israel against annexing parts of the West Bank.

The UN's special Middle East envoy said on Thursday that such a move would be a "devastating blow" to an internationally backed two-state solution.

The Arab League is planning to hold a virtual meeting this week to discuss the annexation plan.