Ben Smith POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump’s silence on the West Bank

Ben Smith POLITICO Playbook PM: Trump’s silence on the West Bank

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DID WE MISS IT? …As far as we know, the White House hasn’t issued a statement one way or the other about Israeli PMBENJAMIN NETANYAHU’Spromise to annex parts of the West Bank if he is reelected. Nor has the State Department. Whether Netanyahu can or will do this is certainly an open question, but it’s a pretty big deal!

OF COURSE,the U.S. has long proposed land swaps between Israel and the Palestinians as part of any peace deal. But that’s not what Netanyahu’s talking about — he’s proposing officially absorbing relatively large swaths of territory into the state of Israel. That would have been a non-starter with past administrations. It would also go down like a lead balloon with America’s Arab allies — whose support would presumably be critical to any sustainable solution to the conflict.

BACK IN APRIL,when the annexation question came up at a congressional hearing, Secretary of StateMIKE POMPEOdeclined to say what the administration would do if Netanyahu went ahead with the idea. As the NYT noted at the time, that’s pretty unusual for the U.S. government, which would typically say … something. We’ve asked both the NSC and State what’s up.

ONE THEORY:The U.S. doesn’t want to weigh in ahead of the elections Tuesday in Israel. But that’s lending the impression that the administration tacitly supports the idea, possibly helping Netanyahu as he fends off the centrist Blue and White party led by Benny Gantz. PresidentDONALD TRUMPhasn’t been shy about supporting Bibi’s reelection, so his silence is interesting.

— REMINDER:Back in June, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said this in an interview with the NYT: “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.” But it wasn’t clear if he was speaking for the president.

TODAY IN LAWSUITS BEING RESURRECTED … JOSH GERSTEIN: “Appeals court revives foreign corruption suit against Trump”:“On Friday, a panel of the New York-based 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals ruled, 2-1, that a district court judge erred in 2017 when he dismissed a lawsuit challenging profits Trump has received from foreign officials doing business with his Washington, D.C., luxury hotel and other Trump-branded properties. The suit also took issue with Trump Organization licensing arrangements approved by foreign governments.

“The new 2nd Circuit decision sharply rejecteda ruling two months ago from another federal appeals court, the Richmond-based 4th Circuit, which tossed out a similar emoluments suit filed in Maryland. Second Circuit Judge Pierre Leval said the 4th Circuit and his dissenting 2nd Circuit College Judge John Walker regarded the suits with too much skepticism because they appeared to be politically motivated.” POLITICO …The ruling

— “Appeals Court Revives Seth Rich Lawsuit Against Fox News,”by HuffPost’s Marina Fang

Happy Friday afternoon. SPOTTED:Ric Grenell and Robert O’Brien — close friends from California, both said to be candidates to be the next national security adviser — having breakfast at the Trump hotel in D.C. this morning. …GRENELLwas spotted leaving the West Wing around noon.

TRADE WAR COOLING? … “China to exempt U.S. pork and soybeans from additional trade war duties, in response to Trump’s tariff delay,”by South China Morning Post’s Zhou Xin

IMMIGRATION FILES — “Trump’s plan to pay for border wall with Air Force funds risks national security, report says,”by NBC’s Courtney Kube: “President Donald Trump’s plan to pay for his proposed border wall by taking funds from more than four dozen Air Force military construction projects poses various national security risks for the U.S. armed forces, according to a report compiled by the U.S. Air Force.

“The report, obtained by NBC News, details the importanceof each of the 51 military projects chosen by the Trump administration to lose their funding, including construction of a new gate to address a growing security concern at an overseas U.S. base, projects to build facilities to safely store more than $1 billion in munitions overseas, and even replacing a boiler whose failure is ‘imminent’ and could cause the evacuation of an entire base in Alaska.” NBC

— “Trump official urges end to medical exemption for deportations,”by Ted Hesson: “An internal memo prepared by a top Trump immigration official recommends that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services be stripped of its authority to delay deportations for undocumented immigrants receiving treatment for serious medical conditions. The Trump administration in August quietly halted its processing of such requests, which are known as ‘deferred action.’ …

“The memo, obtained by POLITICO, clarifies that the agencywould prefer to see its authority removed altogether to grant relief from deportation in such cases. In the memo, USCIS Policy and Strategy Chief Kathy Nuebel Kovarik lays out six options for acting Homeland Security Secretary Kevin McAleenan to take. These range from removing the agency’s deferred action authority to reverting to the earlier status quo.” POLITICO

POLITICO GETS RESULTS — “State IG Set to Recommend Discipline for Trump’s Top Iran Hand,”by The Daily Beast’s Erin Banco: “The State Department is preparing to recommend that the Trump administration’s top representative for Iran policy receive disciplinary action for his role in politically motivated firings of employees at the department, according to two government sources involved in carrying out the investigation.


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