Will White House approve limited sovereignty move?

Source says US officials could discuss a step-by-step process for Israel to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria.

Elad Benari ,

Trump and Netanyahu appear at press conference January 28, 2020
Trump and Netanyahu appear at press conference January 28, 2020

US officials who will gather this week to discuss whether to give Israel a green light for its plan to apply sovereignty over parts of Judea and Samaria may discuss a step-by-step process by which Israel would initially apply sovereignty over several communities close to Jerusalem instead of the 30% of Judea and Samaria envisaged by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, a person familiar with the matter told Reuters on Monday.

A senior administration official said on Monday that the US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, will be in Washington to meet officials including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, senior White House adviser Jared Kushner and Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz. President Donald Trump could also join in.

Netanyahu has set July 1 as the date to begin extending sovereignty over Judea, Samaria and the Jordan Valley.

“Ultimately, as the team approaches this thought of annexation, the main thing going through our heads is, ‘Does this in fact help advance the cause of peace?’ And therefore that is what will help drive a lot of the discussion,” the official told Reuters.

The source said the Trump administration has not closed the door to a larger sovereignty move, but fears that allowing Israel to move too fast could kill any hopes of eventually drawing the Palestinians to sit down to discuss Trump’s peace plan.

There are also concerns about opposition to the plan from Jordan, one of only two countries that have a peace treaty with Israel, as well from Gulf states that have quietly expanded engagement with Israel in recent years.

Washington has also made clear it wants Israel’s unity government, which has been divided on the issue, to reach a consensus before going ahead with any actions, the source said.

Netanyahu last week presented Defense Minister Benny Gantz with a series of possible scenarios for application of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.

Sources familiar with the content of the meeting said a number of scenarios were discussed, ranging from the application of 30 percent of Judea and Samaria to a far more "symbolic" move.