'Our Policy Has Not Changed': Washington Distances Itself its Israel Ambassador

The Israeli army continued, for the third consecutive day, the complete isolation of sixteen Palestinian villages, northwest of occupied Jerusalem, in addition to closing various roads and continuing the state of curfew, imprisoning the villages in their homes, and causing the closure of fifty schools.

"I think the settlements are part of Israel", he told Walla.

US President Donald Trump is seeking to restart frozen peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Americans for Peace Now called on Trump to recall Friedman for making statements that "blatantly contradict long-held United States policy".

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"I just want to be clear that our policy has not changed", said State Department spokesperson Heather Nauert, stressing that Friedman's remarks represent his views along, and should "not be read as a shift in U.S. policy".

In excerpts published from an interview with Israeli website Walla!News, Friedman claimed that Israel is "only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank". Spokesperson Heather Nauert told reporters that the ambassador's comments should "not be read as a shift in United States policy".

In a video interview with Israeli news service Walla News, referring to Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, Friedman said: "I think that the settlements are a part of Israel". "There was always supposed to be some expectation of [Israeli] expansion" into Judea and Samaria.

"And I think that's exactly what Israel has done".

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Friedman's remarks are "very bad news for the future of any American attempt to make peace in the Middle East", Shaath added. I mean, they're only occupying 2 percent of the West Bank.

20-year-old border policeman Solomon Gabriah from Be'er Yaakov in central Israel, and private security guards Yosef Ottman from the nearby Arab-Israeli village of Abu Ghosh and Or Arish, 25, from Har Adar were killed.

Even if Friedman is merely referring to areas in the West Bank that are under the control of settlements, the figure is actually 10% and if he is referring to areas exclusively reserved to Israelis, which are no-go areas for Palestinians, the figure is 40%.

The two sides also broke contacts after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah movement, which controls the West Bank, forged an unexpected pact with Hamas on the governance of the Gaza Strip earlier this month.

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"I just want to be clear that our policy has not changed", Nauert said.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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