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U.S. warns Israel against annexing West Bank

Editor: Wang Lingxiao 丨Xinhua

03-07-2017 07:15 BJT

JERUSALEM, March 6 (Xinhua) -- Israel's Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said Monday that Washington has warned that annexing the West Bank would lead to an "immediate crisis" between the two countries.

Lieberman was responding to hardliners in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's coalition, who are calling for a declaration of Israeli sovereignty over all or part of the West Bank.

Lieberman said annexation would prompt a crisis with President Donald Trump's administration.

"We have received a very clear, direct message from the United States stating that the application of Israeli law in Judea and Samaria would provoke an immediate crisis with the new administration," Lieberman told the parliament's Defense Committee. Judea and Samaria is a Hebrew biblical term for the West Bank, a territory Israel occupied in 1967.

Lieberman said that a decision to annex this land would mean the integration of 2.7 million Palestinians in Israel."

Pointing out an economic reason, Lieberman said that annexation means the Palestinians would "have to receive at least residency status," he said.

"That means that from the first day, 20 billion shekels just from the National Insurance Institute in unemployment benefits, maternity allowances, and other payments. I'm not even talking about the budgets of the interior ministry, the housing ministry and other offices that will also go there," he said.

Israel has been controlling the West Bank ever since it occupied the land, despite international condemnations and calls to end the occupation.

Some lawmakers pushed forward a bill to annex Ma'aleh Adumim, a 37,000-resident settlement, and linking it to Jerusalem. However, the cabinet has postponed the discussion on the draft law to an unknown date.

Lieberman, the leader of the right-wing party of Yisrael Beitenu, is a long-time supporter of a two-state solution based on territorial and population exchanges.

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