By Said Amouri
Israeli prime minister on Monday revealed that he is in contact with the U.S. administration to apply “Israel’s sovereignty” on settlements in the occupied West Bank, local media reported.
This came during a meeting between Netanyahu and members of his right-wing Likud party at the Knesset (parliament) headquarters in Jerusalem, according to Yediot Aharonot newspaper’s website.
Netanyahu noted there will be more contacts with the U.S. officials to apply “Israeli sovereignty” over the West Bank, without elaborating further.
The White House strongly denied reports that Washington and Tel Aviv have discussed "an annexation plan for the West Bank", calling them "false".
"The United States and Israel have never discussed such a proposal, and the President’s focus remains squarely on his Israeli-Palestinian peace initiative," spokesman Josh Raffel told Anadolu Agency.
Last month, members of the Likud party submitted a bill to the Knesset to “annex the West Bank to Israel”, however, it has not yet been voted on.
At the end of the last year, the Likud Central Committee approved a draft law which would support the application of Israel’s so-called sovereignty over all Israeli settlements on the occupied West Bank, including Jerusalem.
Since the U.S. decision, on Dec. 6, to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and relocate the U.S. embassy in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, Israeli activities in the Knesset against the Palestinians have accelerated to view occupied Jerusalem as an alleged capital of Israel.
The settlements established by Israel in the West Bank are inhabited by about half a million settlers.
The Palestinian territories have remained dogged by tension since U.S. President Donald Trump's announcement on Dec. 6.
The move has triggered world outcry and sparked angry protests in the Palestinian territories -- and multiple clashes with Israeli troops -- that have left at least 25 Palestinians dead.
*Michael Hernandez contributed to this report from Washington, D.C.