US President Donald Trump's administration has explicitly warned Israel against annexing parts of the occupied West Bank, saying it would trigger an "immediate crisis," Israel's defence minister ha ssaid.
Addressing the Israeli parliament, defence minister Avigdor Lieberman said US officials had been clear in their opposition to Israeli annexation of West Bank land.
"We received a direct message — not an indirect message and not a hint — from the United States," Mr Lieberman said.
"Imposing Israeli sovereignty on Judea and Samaria would mean an immediate crisis with the new administration."
Judea and Samaria is the biblical term for the West Bank, which Israel captured in the 1967 Six-Day War.
The idea of annexing parts of the West Bank has gained increased popularity in far-right Israeli circles since Mr Trump's election.
The Palestinians seek the West Bank as the heartland of a future state, an endeavour with wide international backing.
The US reaction was sparked by comments by Miki Zohar, a junior MK in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's nationalist Likud Party.
Mr Zohar is among a growing number of coalition members who reject the internationally backed idea of a Palestinian state and instead suggest Israel should annex the West Bank.
Under this version of a "one-state" scenario, the West Bank's more than two million Palestinians would receive expanded autonomy, but not hold full Israeli citizenship or be allowed to vote for the Knesset.
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
The Israeli–Palestinian conflict intensifies
Medics evacuate a wounded man from the scene of an attack in Jerusalem. A Palestinian rammed a vehicle into a bus stop then got out and started stabbing people before he was shot dead
Israeli ZAKA emergency response members carry the body of an Israeli at the scene of a shooting attack in Jerusalem. A pair of Palestinian men boarded a bus in Jerusalem and began shooting and stabbing passengers, while another assailant rammed a car into a bus station before stabbing bystanders, in near-simultaneous attacks that escalated a month long wave of violence
Palestinians throw molotov cocktail during clashes with Israeli troops near Ramallah, West Bank. Recent days have seen a series of stabbing attacks in Israel and the West Bank that have wounded several Israelis
Women cry during the funeral of Palestinian teenager Ahmad Sharaka, 13, who was shot dead by Israeli forces during clashes at a checkpoint near Ramallah, at the family house in the Palestinian West Bank refugee camp of Jalazoun, Ramallah
A wounded Palestinian boy and his father hold hands at a hospital after their house was brought down by an Israeli air strike in Gaza
Palestinians look on after a protester is shot by Israelis soldiers during clashes at the Howara checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus
A lawyer wearing his official robes kicks a tear gas canister back toward Israeli soldiers during a demonstration by scores of Palestinian lawyers called for by the Palestinian Bar Association in solidarity with protesters at the Al-Aqsa mosque compound in Jerusalem's Old City, near Ramallah, West Bank
Undercover Israeli soldiers detain a Palestinian in Ramallah
Palestinian youth burn tyres during clashes with Israeli soldiers close to the Jewish settlement of Bet El, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, after Israel barred Palestinians from Jerusalem's Old City as tensions mounted following attacks that killed two Israelis and wounded a child
Although Mr Netanyahu has not endorsed the one-state vision, many in his coalition do.
"The two-state solution is dead," Mr Zohar told i24NEWS, an Israeli TV channel. "What is left is a one-state solution with the Arabs here as, not as full citizenship, because full citizenship can let them to vote to the Knesset."
"They will be able to vote and be elected in their city under administrative autonomy and under Israeli sovereignty and with complete security control," Mr Zohar added.
Mr Lieberman said he received phone calls "from the entire world" about whether Mr Zohar's proposal reflected the Israeli government's position.
He said imposing Israeli sovereignty on the West Bank would mean Israel would be faced with the financial burden of providing Palestinians with health care and other benefits and called on the governing coalition to "clarify very clearly, there is no intention to impose Israeli sovereignty."
In a striking departure from America's longtime policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Mr Trump has not explicitly embraced a two-state solution.
Last month, he said he would support whatever solution is acceptable to both sides. He also asked Mr Netanyahu to "hold back on settlements".
His comments raised questions about what kind of agreement could be reached and led to calls by hard line members of Mr Netanyahu's Cabinet to give up on the idea of a Palestinian state and formally annex part or all of the West Bank to Israel.
A single binational state could require Israel to grant citizenship to millions Palestinians under its control, threatening its status as a Jewish-majority democracy.
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, who supports a partial annexation of the West Bank, said she was unaware of any controversy with the Trump administration and that Israel in any case is free to do as it sees fit.
"We are not a banana republic. We are an independent and sovereign state," she told Israel's Army Radio station. "There is a supportive administration in the United States. That administration needs to back up the state of Israel and the government's policy."
Additional reporting by agencies
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- Ayelet Shaked