Israel occupies 'just 2 percent' of West Bank, says U.S. ambassador

Palestinians slam 'false' comments by US Israel envoy

Palestinians slam 'false' comments by US Israel envoy

The US ambassador in Tel Aviv has angered Palestinians with a comment downplaying Israel's 50-year occupation of the West Bank, the second such spat in a month.

A spokesperson for COGAT, the Israeli agency responsible for demolitions in the occupied Palestinian territory, told Ma'an News Agency that they were looking into reports.

"It is not the first time that Mr David Friedman has exploited his position as USA ambassador to advocate and validate the Israeli government's policies of occupation and annexation", Erekat added.

Friedman explained that the various United Nations resolutions upon which the peace process is based never required Israel to surrender the entirety of the territory it liberated from Jordanian occupation in 1967. "His positions are a mirror reflection of the settlers' ideology in Israel's right-wing coalition government rather than that of successive Administrations that have claimed to be invested in peace", she added.

Israel occupied the West Bank during the 1967 war.

"So", he continued, "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 2% of the West Bank.

"I think the settlements are part of Israel", Friedman said.

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PLO Executive Committee member Hanan Ashrawi condemned Friedman's statements suggesting that only 2 percent of the West Bank is occupied by Israel and describing as "alleged" the Israeli occupation of the West Bank.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the Six-Day War of 1967 and later annexed east Jerusalem in a move never recognised by the worldwide community.

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".

"If this is a preview of President Trump's ultimate deal, I shudder, but we have a situation where decision-making capability and soundness of judgment is totally lacking". "It isn't just a question of the connection to the homeland, but before all that, it isn't the way to make peace", he said, referring to Hamas exploitation of evacuated Israeli towns in Kush Katif to launch rockets against Israel.

They added nothing Friedman says should be viewed as a change of any USA positions.

In another worrying sign that US President Donald Trump might not be as wholly on Israel's side as some might have hoped, the Trump State Department on Thursday rebuffed its own ambassador to Israel for legitimizing Jewish settlements.

The committee member went on to urge the global community to hold Israel accountable for its continued settlement expansion in the occupied Palestinian territory, and for "its destruction of the very foundations of the two-state solution and peace".

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