Ambassador Friedman: Israel ‘Does Not Have To Wait’ To Annex Settlements

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U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday that Israel “does not have to wait” to annex settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley.

“The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration, the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with conceptual map,” he told reporters on a conference call organized by the White House. “If they wish to apply Israeli law to those areas allocated to Israel, we will recognize it.”

The Trump administration’s Mideast peace plan, released on Tuesday, calls for a four-year freeze which Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu agreed to as part of accepting the proposal. Friedman said that freeze does not apply to current settlements.

The plan recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while safeguarding Israel’s security, and taking its legal and historical claims into account.

It also recognizes a demilitarized Palestinian state with its capital in eastern Jerusalem “located in all areas east and north of the existing security barrier, including Kafr Aqab, the eastern part of Shuafat and Abu Dis, and could be named Al-Quds or another name as determined by the State of Palestine,” with a future U.S. embassy there. And it requires the U.S.-designated terrorist group Hamas to be disarmed.

Israel would maintain security responsibility west of the Jordan River and is expected to annex the Jordan Valley.

No Israelis or Palestinians would be uprooted from their homes, according to the plan and a point U.S. President Donald Trump vocally emphasized in presenting the blueprint.

Some 97 percent of “Israelis in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Israeli territory,” and some 97 percent of “Palestinians in the West Bank will be incorporated into contiguous Palestinian territory. Land swaps will provide the State of Palestine with land reasonably comparable in size to the territory of pre-1967 West Bank and Gaza,” according to the plan.




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