TEL AVIV – Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said he did not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s talk of annexing West Bank settlements would hurt President Donald Trump’s long-awaited peace plan.
Asked by CNN’s Jake Tapper whether he thought Netanyahu “vowing to annex the West Bank” could harm the Trump proposal, Pompeo answered “I don’t.”
“I think that the vision that we’ll lay out is going to represent a significant change from the model that’s been used,” he added.
“We’ve had a lot of ideas for 40 years. They did not deliver peace between the Israelis and the Palestinians,” he said. “Our idea is to put forward a vision that has ideas that are new, that are different, that are unique, that tries to reframe and reshape what’s been an intractable problem.”
The Trump administration, he said, wanted “a better life” for both Israelis and Palestinians.
“We hope that we can get to a better place,” he continued. “Everyone wants this conflict resolved. We want a better life for the Israelis without this conflict, and we certainly want a better life for the people of — the Palestinian people, both in the West Bank and in Gaza.”
Days before the April 9 elections, Netanyahu historically declared that he fully intends to extend Israeli sovereignty over the West Bank. The incumbent prime minister also said he had told President Donald Trump that would not evacuate “a single person” from the 400,000 or so Jews residing in the area.
He also said the Trump administration was aware of his annexation plans and the fact that he rejected the creation of a Palestinian state.
Netanyahu said annexation of the West Bank would happen in three stages and he hoped to do it with “full American support.”
“I discussed [annexation] with representatives of President Trump and I expressed my belief that there is no other option, I think it is also the right move,” he said.
“I want to do it gradually. If possible, I want to do it with full American support,” the prime minister added.
“It is going to happen,” he stated. “This isn’t something I invented for the elections.”
“I was under incredible pressure from the Obama administration — that no prime minister has ever had — to cease construction in the [West Bank] … and yet I withstood them and we continued building and now we will continue,” he said.
Netanyahu also told Army Radio that the Palestinians would not have a state or security control.
“There will be no Palestinian state,” he said, “not like the one people are talking about. It won’t happen.”
During a heated debate with Senator Tim Kaine last week, Pompeo refused to outright endorse a two-state solution to the conflict.