Ambassador Friedman Incorrectly Claims Israel Occupies Only 2% Of West Bank

Israeli construction teams work on a concrete border wall to run above and below ground along the Gaza border September 2016

In the interview, Friedman also expressed sympathy to the idea of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, stating that the Jewish settlements have "important nationalistic, historical, religious significance".

The Palestinians, along with much of the worldwide community, view Israel's West Bank settlements as illegal and an obstacle to peace. According to estimates by the European Union and NGOs across the spectrum, Israel occupies around 60 percent of the West Bank including both settlements and closed military areas.

"I think that was always the expectation when resolution 242 was adopted in 1967", he said, referring to the United Nations security council resolution made at the end of the six-day war, when Israeli forces occupied the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

"I think the settlements are part of Israel", Friedman said, in comments that seem at odds with decades of USA foreign policy.

He refrained from answering when asked if settlements would be removed in a peace agreement with the Palestinians.

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Nabil Shaath, an adviser to the Palestinian president, Mahmoud Abbas, said: "Sometimes ambassadors can be ignorant and sometimes they can be biased but this is completely ignorant, not just of U.S. policy but the fact that the occupation refers to the whole of the West Bank and East Jerusalem".

Since coming to power Trump has assigned his son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner and his former lawyer Jason Greenblatt to talk to both Israelis and Palestinians in order to map out a way of reviving on-and-off peace negotiations.

Israeli and Palestinian experts say there have been dozens of cases throughout a two-year spate of violence in which suicidal Palestinians plagued by emotional and psychological issues carried out deadly attacks. Let's begin with Ambassador Friedman's apparent determination that the settlements are 'a part of Israel.' This is a complete fabrication. Israel says most settlements are legal under Israeli law - though Israel has never extended its sovereignty over the West Bank.

In an interview to the Jerusalem Post earlier this month Friedman referred to the "alleged occupation" of Palestinian territories. But little apparent progress has been made, and the Palestinians have expressed frustration over the efforts.

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