'The settlements are part of Israel'

U.S. Ambassador to Israel tells Hebrew-language news website he believes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are part of Israel.

Ben Ariel ,

David Friedman
David Friedman
Flash 90

David Friedman, the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, said on Thursday that he believes Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria are part of Israel.

“I think the settlements are part of Israel,” Friedman said in an interview with the Hebrew-language Walla website.

“I think that was always the expectation when Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967. It remains today the only substantive resolution that was agreed to by everybody,” he added.

“The idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders,” said Friedman. “The existing borders, the 1967 borders, were viewed by everybody as not secure, so Israel would retain a meaningful portion of the West Bank, and it would return that which it didn’t need for peace and security.”

“So there was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank. And I think that’s exactly what, you know, Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the West Bank,” he pointed out.

Friedman also said that the Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria have an “important nationalistic, historical, religious significance” and added, “I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the settlers as Israelis.”

The ambassador also told Walla that a Trump administration-proposed peace plan likely will go public in months.

“I would speculate within months, but we’re not holding ourselves to any hard deadline. We’ll try to get it done right, not done fast,” he said.

The interview comes as the Trump administration continues its efforts to resume stalled peace talks between Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Earlier this week, Trump’s Middle East peace negotiator, Jason Greenblatt, returned to Israel and met with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. He previously visited in late August.

PA officials have expressed pessimism that Washington's peace efforts can bear fruit, though PA chairman Mahmoud Abbas praised Trump’s efforts during their meeting last week at the UN General Assembly.

The PA is particularly frustrated over the failure of Trump's team to commit to the two-state solution.

State Department Spokeswoman Heather Nauert recently explained that committing to a two-state solution would “bias” the outcome of a peace agreement.