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US concerned over Netanyahu de facto annexing West Bank

For Washington, the concessions Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu is now offering his far-right partners could quickly reignite tensions in the West Bank.
Israeli security forces guard a bus station at the Tapuach junction near the city of Nablus, West Bank, July 1, 2020.

Tensions with the Biden administration are growing as Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu prepares to install the most radical, ultraconservative government in Israeli history. US officials have conveyed indirect messages to Netanyahu in recent days, warning against handing control over the administration of Palestinian lives in the West Bank to Religious Zionism party leader Bezalel Smotrich. They said that such a move would be tantamount to de facto annexation of the territory, with significant implications for the Jerusalem-Washington relationship. 

Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s scheduled Dec. 4 address at the annual conference of the liberal pro-Israel J Street lobby in Washington is expected to convey similar points. In a related development, the State Department has announced the appointment of top diplomat Hady Amr to the newly created post of US special representative for Palestinian affairs. Amr told reporters this week that the Washington-based role “bolsters our ability to manage challenges in the Israeli-Palestinian relationship.”

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