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.


Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

Updated 20 September 2019

Thousands protest in Algiers despite tight security

  • Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies
  • Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies

ALGIERS: Thousands of protesters took to the streets of the Algerian capital on Friday in defiance of a heavy security presence to demand the ouster of the country's army chief.
Demonstrators gathered near the capital's main post office square, the epicentre of Algeria's protest movement that forced longtime president Abdelaziz Bouteflika to step down in April, this time calling for the ouster of General Ahmed Gaid Salah.
"The people want the fall of Gaid Salah," the strongman in post-Bouteflika Algeria, they chanted. "Take us all to prison, the people will not stop."
Friday's protest marked Algeria's 31st consecutive week of rallies, but protesters faced a heavy deployment of security forces in the city centre and along its main avenues.
Salah on Wednesday ordered police to block protesters from outside Algiers entering the capital to boost numbers at the anti-regime rallies.
The tougher line on protests came just days after interim president Abdelkader Bensalah announced a December 12 date for a presidential election to fill the vacuum left by Bouteflika's departure.
The army chief has led the push for polls by the end of 2019, despite mass protests demanding political reforms and the removal of the former president's loyalists -- including Gaid Salah himself -- before any vote.
In the runup to the latest rally, as on previous Fridays, police made several arrests near the square, AFP photographers said.
Police stopped vehicles on main streets in the capital and an AFP journalist saw officers in plainclothes ask for identity papers, before some were led off to nearby vans.
As a police helicopter scoured the skies, security forces also stopped cars headed towards the city centre from its southwest entrance, where a dozen anti-riot police vans were stationed.
Said Salhi, deputy head of the Algerian League for the Defence of Human Rights, condemned the heightened security measures as "illegal".
Demonstrations have officially been banned in Algiers since 2001 but the prohibition had been ignored since rallies started on February 22 against the ailing Bouteflika's bid for a fifth presidential term.