Netanyahu: I Didn’t Discuss Formal Annexation Plan With Pompeo, but Issue Came Up

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday he discussed annexing the Jordan Valley with U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo during a meeting in Lisbon last week, despite an official denial from the State Department on Saturday that a plan was presented when the two spoke.

Sources close to the prime minister relayed that while no annexation plan had been formally discussed, it did not mean the issue had not come up in the conversation.

Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs David Schenker said in a press briefing on Friday that "there was no annexation plan, full or partial, for any part of the West Bank was presented to – by Israel to the United States during the meeting." 

Schenker's remark contradicts what Netanyahu told reporters while he briefed them in Lisbon. The prime minister said that he "discussed with Pompeo the annexation of the Jordan Valley. Clearly it will be easier [if the Jordan Valley is annexed under] a government and not a transitional government which is much more complicated, we are looking for solutions."

Speaking at a conference held by the Israeli newspaper, Makor Rishon, Netanyahu said he intends to broach the subject of applying Israeli sovereignty to the Jordan Valley with the Trump administration. However, last week, the prime minister claimed he had already spoken "extensively" to U.S. President Donald Trump about "the historic opportunities facing us in the coming months. Among them – the Jordan Valley as the recognized eastern border of the State of Israel."