United States ambassador to Jerusalem David M. Friedman told the NY Times in an interview that was published on Saturday that “Under certain circumstances I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank” (see: U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Has Right to Annex Parts of West Bank).
The Times noted as a matter of fact that “much of the world considers Israeli settlements there illegal and would view annexation as compounding the crime.” But much of the world is wrong, since Israel did not occupy a territory from a sovereign state, but from a state that itself invaded the same territory when it was a No-Man’s land in 1948 and never received the world’s recognition of its sovereignty there.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as an election ploy, promised to impose Israeli law in the areas where Israelis live in Judea and Samaria. Should Netanyahu form a coalition government with rightwing parties, they may hold him to this promise and others.
Which is why Ambassador Friedman added the proviso: “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. These are all things that we’d want to understand, and I don’t want to prejudge.”
The folks over at the Muqata – the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates, said on Sunday they consider filing a complaint in the International Criminal Court against Friedman.
“In what logic does Friedman think that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank?” the ministry asked in a press release. “On what reality did he base his conviction? On international law prohibiting the annexation of territory by force? Or the reality imposed by the occupation authorities?”
They added, quite rudely, “This person who is illiterate in politics, history and geography, and who belongs to the state of the settlements… has nothing to do with logic, justice or law unless they serve the occupation state which he is eager to defend by all means.”
Friedman, for his part, was critical of the PA for trying to sabotage the Trump administration’s Bahrain conference.
“It’s unfair the way the Palestinians have described this as a bribe or as an attempt to buy off their national aspirations,” Friedman told the Times. “It’s not at all. It’s an attempt to give life to their aspirations by creating a viable economy.”
Friedman insisted that business people from the PA would have attended the conference, but they are under “massive pressure” from PA officials not to attend. And feel free to use your imagination about what the ambassador meant by “massive pressure.”
“There is almost no Palestinian business leader that wants to refrain from meeting with some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, when the topic of the discussion is limited to giving money to the Palestinians,” Friedman said. “I know firsthand, they want to come.”
Friedman accused the Obama administration of betraying the Jewish State in its farewell abstention in a December 2016 UN Security Council vote on a resolution condemning Israeli settlements as a “flagrant violation” of international law, which gave credence to PA arguments “that the entire West Bank and East Jerusalem belong to them.”
“Certainly Israel’s entitled to retain some portion of it,” Friedman said.