In an interview at his Jerusalem residence last week, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Israel has rights to territories in the West Bank, commonly known in Israel as Judea and Samaria.
“Under certain circumstances,” Friedman told The New York Times on Saturday, “I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged just prior to Israel’s April 9 election to extend Israeli law to all West Bank Jewish communities.
Friedman did not specify what the American response might look like should Israel annex West Bank land unilaterally.
“We really don’t have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves,” he said. “These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”
Friedman said that by allowing passage of a United Nations resolution in 2016 condemning Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law, the Obama administration gave credence to Palestinian arguments “that the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem belong to them.”
With respect to the West Bank, Friedman said that “certainly Israel’s entitled to retain some portion of it.”
According to the Times of Israel, the Palestinian Authority has said in response that it will consider filing a complaint at the International Criminal Court against Friedman.