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Israel's Bennett Visits US After Rejecting Possibility of West Bank Annexations, Two-State Solution

© REUTERS / POOLIsraeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 22 August 2021. Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool via REUTERS
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem on 22 August 2021.  Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool via REUTERS - Sputnik International, 1920, 25.08.2021
This is the first time the two new heads of government of the US and Israel have met and they are expected to discuss a new round of relations between the two countries.
Israel's new Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has arrived in the US, where he will meet American officials as well as President Joe Biden. Bennett will mainly hold talks with Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin on 25 August. His meeting with POTUS is scheduled for 26 August.
"There’s a new government in the US and a new government in Israel, and I bring with me from Jerusalem a new spirit of cooperation, and this rests on the special and long relationship between the two countries," Bennett stated before departing for the US.
This is the Israeli prime minister's first official visit to the US, where he expected to discuss bilateral relations and regional issues with Biden, who has yet to declare what his policy towards Israel and the Middle East is. So far, the president has been largely preoccupied with dealing with the pandemic, vaccinations and most recently with the chaotic evacuation of military and civilians from Afghanistan.
Iran will be on the top of Bennett's agenda for this trip, according to the Prime Minister’s Office. He intends to raise the issue of "leapfrogging in the past two to three years in the Iranian nuclear programme".
Iran's nuclear programme is a great worry to Tel Aviv and in the past, Bennett has often objected to US plans to revive the old deal by which sanctions will be lifted if Iran keeps a lid on any nuclear advances. The prime minister has described the nuclear accord as a "deal that has already expired and is not relevant". He also suggested that if any such agreement is reached, it must include provisions that would limit Tehran's activities in the region, purportedly carried out through proxies.

No Annexations or Two-State Solutions for West Bank

Before his departure to the US, Bennett also elaborated on his position concerning West Bank-related issues. He explained that because of the nature of the present ruling coalition, which consists of an array of parties of widely differing political spectrums, the government won't be able to make any drastic shifts in its policy towards the West Bank.
The prime minister specifically said that there will be no annexation of the West Bank lands as had been planned by Benjamin Netanyahu's government. Nor does his government support the idea of establishing a Palestinian state – a key component of an internationally recognised framework for resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"I’m prime minister of all Israelis, and what I’m doing now is finding the middle ground - how we can focus on what we agree upon," Bennett said.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu arrive to deliver joint remarks on a Middle East peace plan proposal in the East Room of the White House in Washington, U.S., January 28, 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 09.02.2020
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The previous government of Benjamin Netanyahu, which Bennett and a group of opposition parties managed to oust this year after the fourth election in a row, was planning to annex parts of the West Bank which had been selected to become Israeli lands under the peace accord proposed by former US President Donald Trump. These plans were put on hold in exchange for the normalisation of relations with the UAE and several other Muslim countries, arranged by the US.
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