Excerpts of a letter from former U.S. President Donald Trump published by The Jerusalem Post on Sunday reveal that then-Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu allegedly received the green light from the White House to declare Israeli sovereignty over parts of the West Bank.
The three-page letter, dated Jan. 26, 2020, allegedly arrived in Jerusalem just two days before the Trump administration rolled out its vision for peace between Israel and the Palestinians – the “Peace to Prosperity” plan.
According to the JPost, Trump wrote that if Netanyahu were to embrace the U.S.-designed policies and formally adopt the territorial plans that the Trump team had put forward, the United States would recognize “Israeli sovereignty in those areas of the West Bank,” which his vision “contemplates as being part of Israel.”
Within six months between the unveiling of the Trump peace plan and the announcement of the Abraham Accords, Netanyahu presented his own plan to declare sovereignty over the West Bank, before backtracking.
Three books published recently by Trump administration officials – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and special envoys Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt – have shed new light on the decision-making process that occurred behind the scenes.
Kushner claimed in his book, “Breaking History: A White House Memoir,” that Friedman had undercut Trump when he gave Netanyahu assurances that he would have support from the White House for the annexation of the West Bank.
In “Sledgehammer: How Breaking with the Past Brought Peace to the Middle East,” Friedman described trying to bridge a rift between Netanyahu and the Trump White House over the matter.
The former ambassador revealed that he held “heart-to-heart” conversations with Netanyahu, in which he explained that, unlike moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the sovereignty issue in Judea and Samaria “had no chance of advancement,” despite Friedman being in favor of it personally.
To promote Israel’s annexation plan in Washington, Friedman said he needed something to work with. The U.S. ambassador recommended that Netanyahu first seek political stability within his unity government, then move to suggest a big package of practical initiatives for the Palestinians.
“Give me something I can sell to the president,” he told the former Israeli premier.
Greenblatt wrote about his diplomatic peace efforts in his book, “In the Path of Abraham: How Donald Trump Made Peace in the Middle East – and How to Stop Joe Biden from Unmaking It.”
The JPost quoted the former special envoy as saying he was “not surprised Netanyahu believed that condition remained in place,” given the former premier’s position on the issue throughout Greenblatt’s discussions with him.
Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.