A Trump Administration official argued the view expressed by US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman that “Israel has the right to retain” some of the West Bank dopes not mean existing US policy on the matter altered. Friedman exposed his views during an interview to the New York Times on Friday, which generated fierce reactions from Palestinian leaders, J-Street president and Meretz Leader Tamar Zandberg.
Speaking on Saturday, a Trump Administration official said, "Our policy has not changed."
Former Palestinian negotiator Nabil Sha’ath, who serves as adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, said that the US was imposing the Deal of the Century on the ground without announcing it.
“There won’t be a lasting and comprehensive peace without the establishment of a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders,” Sha’ath said.
The West Bank, including part of Jerusalem, was a part of Jordan before the Six Day War of 1967. Israel annexed the former Jordanian part of the city and holds that the unified City of Peace is its capital.
Palestinians argue that they should be able to claim Jerusalem as a capital as well when a Palestinian state becomes a reality.
"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 promotes 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."
Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg said Friedman must know that “annexation (of the West Bank) would be a disaster to the state of Israel,” Maariv reported. “Peace is the interest of the Israelis and Palestinians who live here,” she added, “even if the American administration decided to serve only the radical right.”
Due to the establishment of large Jewish communities in the West Bank, which is also the part that once included the historical Kingdoms of Judah and Samaria, it is a long held belief that some land-swaps will be included in a Palestinian-Israeli peace plan which will allow these towns to remain in Israel after the creation of a Palestinian state.