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Jewish settlers praise annexation, reject Palestinian state

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Maale Adumim (Palestinian Territories) (AFP)

In Maale Adumim, one of the largest Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, residents watched the unveiling of Donald Trump's peace plan with keen interest.

"I was born here, and since I was little we have been hearing about annexation by Israel," said Guy Yifrach, the 37-year old mayor of this community west of Jerusalem.

Trump's proposals, which were swiftly rejected by the Palestinians, gave Israel the green light to assert its sovereignty over various parts of the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who was standing next to Trump when the plan was released, will ask his cabinet to approve annexations on Sunday, multiple Israeli officials told AFP.

They did not specify which areas Netanyahu would target first, but Yifrach made clear he hoped Maale Adumim would be on the list.

"We hope it will finally happen," said Yifrach. "We have been waiting for years."

More than 400,000 Israelis live in West Bank settlements, including 42,000 in Maale Adumim, which residents consider a suburb of Jerusalem.

Shortly after Trump's plan was announced, the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel "does not have to wait at all" before moving forward with annexation.

That may have been welcome news to Yifrach, but not all of Trump's proposals were so warmly received.

The US president also called for the creation of an independent "contiguous" Palestinian state.

"I am against the creation of a Palestinian state," in the heart of Israel, said Yifrach, voicing fear about insecurity in his community.

That sentiment was echoed by other settlers.

The head of the Yesha Council, an umbrella group that represents settlers living in the West Bank, had earlier voiced concern about Trump's plan.

"We can't agree to a plan that includes forming a Palestinian state, which will constitute a threat to Israel and a great danger to the future," said council head David Elhayani.

In an interview with army radio before Trump's plan was announced, Israeli Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich of the far-right Yemina union stressed that his party "won't under any conditions agree to recognition, whether explicit or implicit, of a Palestinian state".

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