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Troops, Palestinians clash as Israel prepares to annex in West Bank

By Don Jacobson
Troops, Palestinians clash as Israel prepares to annex in West Bank
A billboard with photos of U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu states, in Hebrew, "No to a Palestinian state," while overlooking a highway in Jerusalem, Israel last Thursday. Photo by Debbie Hill/UPI | License Photo

June 23 (UPI) -- Soldiers guarding Jewish visitors to the holy site of Joseph's Tomb in the West Bank clashed with protesters Tuesday amid controversial plans by Israel to annex portions of occupied territories there.

Official Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that one demonstrator was injured as Israeli troops at the holy site near the West Bank city of Nablus fired rubber bullets and deployed tear gas.

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WAFA reported that Palestinian youths led the protest at Joseph's Tomb, which is located in area of the West Bank under sole Palestinian control.

The clash came one week ahead of Israel's intent to annex parts of the West Bank under a plan by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who vowed to impose sovereign control over at least some territories as soon as July 1.

RELATED Israel to conduct census of West Bank Palestinians ahead of annexation

Israeli Army Radio reported Tuesday that Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, of the opposition Blue and White Party, is attempting to stop unilateral annexations of Jewish settlements.

Ashkenazi instead advocates they be done only in coordination with the United States, neighboring states including Jordan and the Palestinian Authority.

The planned annexations have been denounced by Palestinians, Jordanian King Abdullah, the United Nations and European Union.

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RELATED Palestinian Authority to declare new state if Israel annexes in West Bank

The Trump administration is expected to decide this week whether to support Israel's plans to annex parts of the West Bank, taking into consideration the possibility the move could spawn violent protests and terrorism.

A group of Israeli military officers published an open letter to Trump on Tuesday, which thanks the U.S. leader for his longstanding support for Israel and urges him to support the annexation plans.

"We trust that you will continue to work to secure the future peace of the people of Israel and of the Middle East as a whole," they wrote.

RELATED Mahmoud Abbas ends Palestinian security deal with U.S., Israel

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