November 20, 2019

Israel Has the ‘Right’ to Annex Parts of West Bank, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Says

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visit the border line between Israel and Syria at the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, March 11, 2019 REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun/File Photo

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The Palestinian Authority’s foreign ministry said it was considering filing a complaint in the International Criminal Court against the U.S. ambassador to Israel for saying that Israel has the right to annex “some” of the occupied West Bank.

Amb. David Friedman told the New York Times in an interview published on Sunday that “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”

His remarks come on the heels of the new Israeli government’s decision to go to new elections. Prior to the April 9 election, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised voters that he would begin to annex parts of the West Bank.

Friedman said he was not able to say how the United States would respond to a unilateral Israeli annexation of West Bank lands.

“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,” Friedman told the Times. “These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry in a statement said that Friedman’s comments are a reflection of a U.S. policy biased toward Israel and settlements, the P.A.’s official news service WAFA reported.

“In what logic does Friedman think that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank?”  the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement, WAFA reported. “This person who is illiterate in politics, history and geography, and who belongs to the state of the settlements… has nothing to do with logic, justice or law unless they serve the occupation state which he is eager to defend by all means,” the statement also said.

Friedman also said that he does not know when the Trump administration will release the long awaited Mideast peace plan, but that he would welcome the chance to promote and defend it.

“Maybe they won’t take it, maybe it doesn’t meet their minimums,” he told the Times. “We’re relying upon the fact that the right plan, for the right time, will get the right reaction over time.”