Palestinians say US envoy’s annexation comments show ‘extremist’ approach

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel has the right to retain parts of the West Bank. (AFP/File photo)
Updated 09 June 2019
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Palestinians say US envoy’s annexation comments show ‘extremist’ approach

  • US ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel has right to annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank
  • Palestinian government says some leading US policy on the issue were lacking in 'political maturity'

RAMALLAH: Palestinian leaders say a US envoy’s comments on Israel having the right to annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank show “extremists” are involved in White House policy on the issue.
In a statement late Saturday in response to US ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s comments in a New York Times interview, a Palestinian government spokesman said some leading US policy on the issue were “extremists” lacking in “political maturity.”
The Palestinian foreign ministry said it was looking into filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court on the issue.
Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erekat on Twitter called Friedman an “extreme ambassador of the settlers.”
“Their vision is about annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law,” he said.
Erekat also renewed a Palestinian call for countries to boycott a June 25-26 conference in Bahrain to discuss economic aspects of a peace deal the White House has been working on.
In the interview published Saturday, Friedman said some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.
“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” he said.
Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and its construction of settlements there is viewed as a major stumbling block to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.
Friedman has in the past been a supporter of Israeli settlements as has the family of Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser leading efforts to put together the peace deal.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged ahead of April elections to begin annexing West Bank settlements.
Bringing settlements under Israeli sovereignty on a large-scale could end any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians.
More than 600,000 Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem among some three million Palestinians.
On the long-delayed peace plan, Friedman said it was aimed at improving the quality of life for Palestinians but would fall well short of a “permanent resolution to the conflict.”
Publication of the plan looks set to be further delayed after the Israeli parliament called a snap general election for September, the second this year.
The plan is regarded as too sensitive to release during the campaign.
The Palestinian leadership has already rejected the plan, saying Trump’s moves so far show him to be blatantly biased in favor of Israel.
Those moves include recognizing the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.


Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

Updated 25 June 2019
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Kushner: Trump wants fair deal for Palestinians

  • Fighting new economic plan ‘a strategic mistake,’ White House adviser says
  • Says plan would double Palestinian GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs

MANAMA, Bahrain: Donald Trump wants a fair deal for Palestinians, the US president’s adviser and son-in-law Jared Kushner said on the eve of the launch in Bahrain of the White House’s $50 billion “peace for prosperity” plan.

The Palestinians are missing an opportunity to participate in the Middle East peace process by boycotting the Bahrain conference, Kushner said. “This is a strong package that has been put together. Fighting it instead of embracing it, I think, is a strategic mistake.”

The plan proposes a global investment fund for Palestine and neighboring Arab states, and a $5 billion transport corridor between the West Bank and Gaza. Palestinian leaders have rejected it, but Kushner said their criticism was “more emotional than specific.”

“Nobody has refuted our core premise that this would do a lot to stimulate the economy,” he said. “The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.”

The Palestinian people have been trapped in a situation for a long time and we wanted to show them, and their leadership, that there is a pathway forward that could be quite exciting.

Jared Kushner, US president’s adviser

Kushner said Trump decisions such as recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moving the US Embassy there from Tel Aviv were evidence that the president kept his promises.

“The Palestinians might not have liked his Jerusalem decision, but he made a promise and he did it,” he said. What the president wanted now was “to give the Palestinian people a fair solution.”

Kushner said the plan would double the GDP in 10 years, create over a million jobs, reduce poverty by 50 percent and bring unemployment to below 10 percent.

“We believe this doable,” he said. “It’s hard, but if there’s a peace agreement and we set up the right structure, we think it could really lead to improving people’s lives in a substantial way.

“I think there is a lot of enthusiasm in the West Bank and Gaza to see if we can find a political solution so that this can be implemented.”

The political element of the White House plan has been delayed by uncertainty in Israel, where there will be elections this year after an earlier vote failed to produce a stable coalition, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu may also face a criminal trial for corruption.