In an interview with the NYT, David Friedman said some degree of annexation of the West Bank would be legitimate.
The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates is considering filing a complaint against the US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, at the International Criminal Court (ICC) over his recent comments on the long-awaited US peace plan.
Friedman, a staunch supporter of Israeli settlements, said Israel has the right to annex at least “some” of the occupied West Bank in an interview published by the New York Times on Saturday.
“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” he said.
In a press statement on Sunday, the ministry condemned Friedman’s remarks, describing him as “a threat to regional peace and security” and his words as “an extension of the policy of the US administration, which is fully biased towards the occupation and its expansionist colonial policies“.
“What reasoning could justify Friedman’s logic that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank? International law prohibits the annexation of a land by force, as well as a reality imposed by occupying powers,” the ministry said in a statement.
Friedman’s remarks elicited a strong reaction from Palestinian politicians.
Senior Palestinian official Saeb Erekat said on Saturday any such policy would be tantamount to “US complicity with Israeli colonial plans”.
Also responding to the comments, Palestine Liberation Organization’s (PLO) executive member Hanan Ashrawi said the US was justifying land theft, Al Jazeera’s Nida Ibrahim reported from Ramallah.
“We have also heard from a statement by Fatah, the ruling party in the West Bank, which said that they don’t know if the US ambassador is representing the view of Israeli settlers or that of the US administration,” Ibrahim said.
But Palestinians have rejected the proposal before it has even been unveiled, citing a string of moves by US President Donald Trump that they say show his administration is biased.
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. Palestinians will boycott the US-led economic summit.
Annexing Israeli settlements
Publication of the plan looks set to be delayed after the Israeli parliament called a snap general election for September, the second this year. The US proposal 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 illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, a move long supported by nearly all legislators in his alliance of right-wing and religious parties.
In February this year, Netanyahu told legislators he had been discussing with Washington a plan that would effectively annex illegal settlements.
In a rare public show of disunity between the close allies, the White House then flatly denied any such discussion.
Following the 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.