Trump and Netanyahu
Trump and NetanyahuKobi Gideon/GPO

A senior Israeli official and confidant of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu played down the apparent split between the US and Israel regarding the timetable for the application of Israeli sovereignty over large swaths of Judea and Samaria.

On Thursday, the senior official said that the disagreement centered around technical issues only, while both sides had fundamentally agreed that Israel will extend its sovereignty over about 30% of Judea and Samaria, including all Israeli towns in the area.

“We’ve been working on this for three years,” the official said. “That’s not three meetings – but hundreds of hours to try to advance this – a deal which is good for the State of Israel.”

“What has been agreed upon is a huge thing, recognition by an American president of the Israeli right to sovereignty in the Jordan Valley, northern Dead Sea, and the Jewish towns” in Judea and Samaria. “That’s been achieved, there’s no argument about it, and its going to happen.”

The official went on to say that the only disagreement which remains between Israel and the Trump administration is whether to carry out the application of sovereignty in one step, or whether Israel should apply sovereignty in stages.

While the Trump plan presented Tuesday released a map with the general outline of the areas to be placed under Israeli sovereignty, the exact boundaries need to be worked out by the US and Israel. That process could take months, leading Trump senior advisor Jared Kushner to say sovereignty ought not to be applied until after the election in March.

But Israeli officials are hoping to begin applying sovereignty immediately, starting with areas which are unquestionably within the boundaries allotted to Israel under the Trump plan.

Israel would later complete the annexation, taking the remaining areas under its sovereign control after Israeli and US officials work out the precise boundaries.

“The problem is a simple technical one,” the official said. “The question is a simple one. The Americans are saying that the president announced the right to sovereignty, but the action needs to happen, according to them, not in stages.”

“We, on the other hand, want to break it up into stages, so that we can advance it as quickly as possible. We agree on everything, there isn’t any real disagreement.”

The Trump administration “wants to get the finished situation; but we’re trying to reach an understanding with them.”

A second Netanyahu confidant said Israel would have to run any extension of sovereignty by the US.

“There can be no application of law [Israel] can carry out without having the Americans look at the map first. We will show it to them, they’ll look and see that we aren’t violating what has been decided, and then we can move forward. We’ll show them everything, there’s no dispute about this.”