USA ambassador says 'settlements are part of Israel'

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2012

German Chancellor Angela Merkel with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in 2012

The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, has made a second dramatic intervention in US Middle East policy, suggesting that only 2% of the West Bank is occupied by Israel and that the worldwide community always intended for Israel to keep some of the land it seized during the six-day war in 1967. "We'll try to get it done right, not done fast".

APN's President and CEO Debra DeLee said: "These statements by the official representative of our country in Israel are outrageous, unacceptable, and flat-out wrong".

"I think settlements are part of Israel", Friedman said, giving a historical overview of the process since Israel captured the West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Golan Heights in the 1967 Six Day War.

When asked if some settlements would have to be given up in a potential peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority, Friedman only responded, "Wait and see".

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It is the second time in as many months that Friedman has courted controversy with his views on Israel's occupation and Jewish settlements, after he referred to "the alleged occupation" in an interview with the Jerusalem Post.

After being pushed to confirm whether progress has been made by the Trump administration, the ambassador said yes.

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"Such positions undermine ongoing efforts towards achieving a just and lasting peace between Israel and Palestine on the 1967 border", he said.

Much of the worldwide community views West Bank settlements as illegal and has frequently tried to pressure Israel to halt construction beyond the Green Line. Israel's government has never annexed the West Bank. Israel disputes this, saying the fate of the settlements must be resolved through negotiations with the Palestinians.

"Then we have Friedman's repetition of the canard, a common talking point of settler apologists, that Israel occupies only 2% of the West Bank".

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