US Envoy Says Israel Has 'Right' to Annex West Bank Land

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The US ambassador has said Israel has the right to annex at least "some" of the occupied West Bank, in comments likely to deepen Palestinian opposition to a long-awaited US peace plan.

The Palestinians have rejected the plan before it has even been unveiled, citing a string of moves by US President Donald Trump that they say show his administration is irredeemably biased.

They are likely to see the latest comments by US ambassador to Israel David Friedman as new nail in the coffin of a peace process that is already on life support.

In the interview published by the New York Times on Saturday, Friedman said that 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.

Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat has said any such policy would be tantamount to "US complicity with Israeli colonial plans." 

The establishment of a Palestinian state in territories, including the West Bank, that Israel occupied in the Six-Day War of 1967, has been the focus of all past  Middle East peace plans.

No firm date has yet been set for the unveiling of the Trump administration's plan although a conference is to be held in Bahrain later this month on its economic aspects.

- Failed state helps nobody -

The public comments made by administation officials so far suggest the plan will lean heavily on substantial financial support for the Palestinian economy, much of it funded by the Gulf Arab states, in return for concessions on territory and statehood.

"The absolute last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state between Israel and Jordan," Friedman said in the Times interview.

"Maybe they won’t take it, maybe it doesn't meet their minimums.

"We're relying upon the fact that the right plan, for the right time, will get the right reaction over time."

Friedman, a staunch supporter of the Israeli settlements, told the Times that the Trump plan was aimed at improving the quality of life for Palestinians but would fall well short of a "permanent resolution to the conflict."

He said he did not believe the plan would trigger Palestinian violence.

But he said the United States would coordinate closely with Arab ally Jordan, which could face unrest among its large Palestinian population over a plan perceived as overly favourable to Israel.

Publication of the plan looks set to be further delayed after the Israeli paraliament called a snap general election for September, the second this year.

The plan is regarded as too sensitive to release during the campaign.

During campaigning for the first general election in April, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to annex West Bank Jewish settlements, a move long supported by nearly all lawmakers in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties.

Earlier, in February, Netanyahu told lawmakers he had been discussing with Washington a plan that would effectively annex settlements.

In a rare public show of disunity between the close allies, the White House then flatly denied any such discussion.

Following persistent expansion of the settlements by successive Netanyahu governments, more than 600,000 Jewish settlers now live in the West Bank, including annexed east Jerusalem, among some three million Palestinians.

The international community regards the settlements as illegal and the biggest obstacle to peace.

Comments 3
Missing phillipo 3 months

Let's talk about annexation after war :
Texas - Mexico to USA
Schleswig - Germany to Denmark
Alsace Lorraine - Germany to France
East Prussia - Germany to Poland
Estonia , Latvia, Lithuania - Independent to USSR
Tibet - Independent to PR China
Fiume - Italy to Yugoslavia
Hatay - Syria to Turkey
So why should - West Bank to Israel be any different?
Has anyone heard of a single Palestinian complaining about all or single one of the above, of course not.

Thumb lebanon_first 3 months

Philippo. We are 21st century, century of humanism and the right for selfdetermination of people. The dark episodes you are referring to are the past. There is no more annexation today, however military strong israel is.

How would you feel to annex tel aviv to gaza strip.

Missing phillipo 3 months

So can I assume that you are 100% in favour of selfdetermination, meaning -
the establishment of an independent Kurdish State from parts of Iran, Iran and Turkey
The establishment of an independent Catalonia from Spain.
Then remember how many times Arafat and Abbas were offered an independent Palestine State but refused.
And whilst we are at it, how about the Arab States recognising the selfdetermination of the Jewish people in the State of Israel? Ask Iran, Hamas and Hizballah why they are determinded to wipe out this selfdetermination.