Knesset authorization of a land law in Area C of the West Bank — which is outside its purview — sparked outrage worldwide this week, but drew virtual silence from the White House, where the president’s team is preparing for a critical visit from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday.
The Trump administration had two convenient excuses to defer comment: The prime minister’s upcoming visit and the likelihood that the bill will die on arrival at Israel’s High Court, which has ruled repeatedly against Knesset jurisdiction in the Palestinian territories.
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Trump officials were aware that this legislation was in the works throughout the presidential transition period, prompting outgoing President Barack Obama to condemn Israeli lawmakers and reconsider his stance at the UN Security Council on settlement activity. They knew this bill was coming down the pipe when Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman suggested in December that a vote should be deferred until after Donald Trump’s inauguration on January 20.
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