(JNS.org) In an out-of-the-ordinary statement by an American official, U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview Thursday he believes that settlements are “part of Israel.”
"I think the settlements are part of Israel," Friedman said in an interview with the Israeli network Walla. "I think that was always the expectation when resolution 242 was adopted in 1967... The idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders. 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.”
Friedman continued, saying there has always been a “notion” that Israel would expand into parts of the West Bank, but that Israel would not take the entire region.
“And I think that's exactly what, you know, Israel has done. I mean, they're only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank. There is important nationalistic, historical [and] religious significance to those settlements, and I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis and Israel views the settlers as Israelis."
Friedman’s statements come as the Trump administration has been looking to restart negotiations between the Israelis and Palestinians. This week, Trump’s special Middle East envoy Jason Greenblatt visited the region again.
While Friedman didn’t give a firm timeline for a proposed peace plan to go public, he believes it could be announced “within months.”
“We'll try to get it done right, not done fast,” Friedman added.