Israel can annex parts of West Bank, says US envoy

New York [USA]: US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Saturday opined that Israel has the right to annex “at least some” parts of the West Bank, a move that could violate international law and invite wrath from Palestine.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman told The New York Times.

The envoy’s comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had said in April that he would soon begin annexing settlements in the West Bank during campaigning in a bid to woo right-wing voters.

When asked how the US would react if Netanyahu went ahead with his decision, Friedman said, “We really do not have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region and why does it not create more problems than it solves. These are all things that we would want to understand, and I do not want to prejudge.”

The move could hamper the prospects of a two-state solution, wherein Israel and Palestine would be treated as separate countries – a move which the US is in favour of.

Even Israeli officials have cautioned that annexing parts of the troubled West Bank could incite more violence and force the military personnel to occupy urban areas there.

Responding to a question on Palestine failing to reach a solution to the decades-long conflict, Friedman said that there was “more blame from their side” while adding that Israel had “made its own mistakes.”

Palestinians argue that they want full control over the West Bank, saying that settlements violate the territorial integrity of a possible future country.

The Middle East plan which has been prepared by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner will be unveiled during the Peace to Prosperity Summit on June 24-25 in Bahrain.

Palestinians protesting against Israel have demanded a separate state with self-governance.

Speculation is rife that the upcoming deal does not include a two-state solution, which was promoted by several countries, including the US.

Last month, Kushner had said that the US may pull back from the longstanding mention of a two-state solution.

“If you say ‘two-state,’ it means one thing to the Israelis, it means one thing to the Palestinians. Palestinians are not yet capable of governing themselves,” he had said at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy last month.

Several Arab countries have also signalled that they will oppose the US’ plan if it will favour Israel and undermine Palestine’s demands.