U.S. Ambassador in Israel David Melech Friedman .
(photo credit: TOVAH LAZAROFF)
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that Israel has the right to annex some but "unlikely all" of the West Bank in an interview with The New York Times on Friday.
This comes after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to begin annexing settlements in the West Bank, a move that would put a dent in any attempts at a two-state solution in the area.
"Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank," Friedman said.
Following Friedman's interview, an administration official reacted Saturday, saying: "Our policy has not changed," The Jerusalem Post
Omri Nahmias reports.
The comment by Friedman stirred plenty of controversy, since much of the world views Israeli settlements in the West Bank as illegal.
Friedman further clarified that the "Deal of the Century" was aimed at improving life for Palestinians, but without any "permanent resolution to the conflict."
However, the United Nations resolution in 2016 allowed by the Obama administration which condemned the Israeli settlements in the West Bank was heavily criticized by Friedman, who said that "Israel's entitled to retain some portion of it."
"David Friedman has once again made clear that he is acting not as the US ambassador to Israel but as the settlement movement's ambassador to the United States," said Jeremy Ben-Ami, president of the pro-Israel liberal nonprofit J Street, which encourages American leadership to end the Arab-Israeli conflict. "By essentially giving the Netanyahu government a green light to begin unilaterally annexing Palestinian territory in the West Bank, the Trump administration is endorsing a flagrant violation of international law."
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