US Ambassador Friedman: Israel 'only occupying 2% of the West Bank'

"There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank."

September 28, 2017 14:35
1 minute read.
US Ambassador David Friedman at the knesset

US Ambassador David Friedman at the knesset. (photo credit: MATTY STERN, US EMBASSY TEL AVIV)

The Trump administration may put forward an Israeli-Palestinian diplomatic plan within months, but is not tying itself to a hard and fast deadline, according to US Ambassador David Friedman.

Friedman, in a brief snippet of a video interview with Walla that was broadcast on Thursday, said that the administration is trying to get the plan “done right, not done fast.”

Friedman met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, along with Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer and President Donald Trump’s Special Representative for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt.

The US ambassador, who ruffled some feathers last month when in an interview with The Jerusalem Post he referred to Israel’s presence in the West Bank as an “alleged occupation,” said the settlements are “only occupying 2% of the West Bank.” He added that there was important historical and religious significance to those settlements.

“I think the settlements are part of Israel,” he said. “I think that was always the expectation when [UN Security Council] Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967, and it remains today the only substantive resolution agreed to by everybody.”
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaking for the first time at the Knesset as US Ambassador to Israel at a special meeting organized by the Knesset Caucus for US – Israel Relations, July 25, 20

Friedman said that the idea underpinning 242 was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders. “The existing borders, the 1967 borders, were viewed by everybody as not secure, so Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn’t need for peace and security,” he said.

Friedman said “There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank, and I think that [some limited expansion] is what Israel has done.”

Asked if he thought that settlements would have to be uprooted as part of a peace plan, Friedman replied: “Wait and see.”

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