Palestine says US ambassador helps Israel to annex part of West Bank

Palestine Liberation Organization secretary general Saeb Erekat on Twitter called Friedman an “extreme ambassador of the settlers.” (File/AFP)
Updated 10 June 2019
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Palestine says US ambassador helps Israel to annex part of West Bank

  • Palestinian official urged the international community to respond
  • The foreign ministry said it was looking into filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court on the issue

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 Palestinian land.
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.


Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

Updated 11 min 39 sec ago
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Door will stay open to Palestinians despite Bahrain boycott, Kushner tells Arab News

  • Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians
  • Kushner says he has laid out a great framework in which Palestinians can engage 'if they want to make their people’s lives better'

MANAMA: The “Peace to Prosperity” conference in Bahrain was “a remarkable couple of days,” White House adviser Jared Kushner said on Wednesday as he was pressed by Israeli reporters demanding to know what consequences Palestinians would face for refusing to attend.
The conflict was a “solvable problem economically,” Kushner said. “The Palestinian people have been promised a lot of things over the years that have not come true, and I do want to show them that this is the plan, this is what could happen if there is a peace deal.”
Kushner said he planned to follow up with investors to secure the funding. “Once we have that, we will roll into the political plan but we will do it with a context of people having the opportunity to digest what is possible.” It was a “constant theme” during the conference “that this is actually very doable,” he said.
Kushner’s press secretary controlled who could ask questions. He said he would only allow four, and called Israeli journalists from i24 Israeli TV and The Times of Israel.  When the press secretary waved me away, I asked if he would take a question from the only Palestinian reporter present, writing for Arab News. Kushner said: “Yes.”
I asked if he was going to close the door or leave it open to the Palestinians as his vision for economic peace moved forward.
“If they actually want to make their people’s lives better, we have now laid out a great framework in which they can engage and try to achieve it,” Kushner replied.
“We have left the door open the whole time. One thing you have seen with me is I tend not to get emotional about transactions at the end of the day, I understand people have their domestic politics and people have different ways of reacting.

“I think what you have seen from us is that we have been very respectful, very straightforward. We have been very deliberate. We take actions, not weighing the
political consequences. We have been weighing what is right and wrong.”
Kushner said US President Donald Trump had delivered on his promises to everyone, and would deliver on his promise to Palestinians.
“President Trump has said he wants to help the Palestinians achieve a better future for themselves, and I hope they will take it very seriously that he has been trying to do that. Hopefully what you have seen in the last couple of days shows there has been a lot of effort on a very high level, a lot of resources devoted to it.
“We are going to keep moving forward and we will put out our political plan at the right time. I do think that one of the things from today is that it will be very hard for people to go back to looking at this through a traditional lens. I do think that hopefully we have helped people look at it a little bit differently, and that is one of our goals.”