TEL AVIV — Israeli Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan on Sunday praised the U.S. ambassador to Israel’s comments saying that Israel “has the right” to annex some of the West Bank.
“The worldview of the Trump administration, which was expressed by Ambassador (David) Friedman, is the only one that might bring about a change,” said Erdan.
He added that it was the only way to “make the Palestinians understand that boycotting Israel and the United States, and their support for terror and incitement, will not bring them any achievements.”
“They are the ones who will lose by rejecting peace,” Erdan said.
The Palestinian Authority on Sunday threatened to file a complaint at the International Criminal Court against Friedman over his remarks.
“In what logic does Friedman think that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank?” a statement by the PA said. “On what reality did he base his conviction? On international law prohibiting the annexation of territory by force? Or the reality imposed by the occupation authorities?”
The PA also accused Friedman of being “illiterate.”
“This person who is illiterate in politics, history and geography, and who belongs to the state of the settlements … has nothing to do with logic, justice or law unless they serve the occupation state which he is eager to defend by all means,” it said.
In a statement Saturday, the State Department clarified Friedman’s remarks, saying annexation was not on the table: “The administration position on settlements has not changed. No plan for unilateral annexation by Israel of any portion of the West Bank has been presented by Israel to the U.S. nor is it under discussion.”
Likud MK Tzachi Hanegbi also praised Friedman’s remarks as having “a lot of wisdom.”
Friedman’s remarks also drew criticism from those on the Israeli left. Meretz head Tamar Zandberg said: “As long as Friedman is the U.S. ambassador in Israel and not in a settler state, he must know that annexation would be a disaster for the State of Israel. The ambassador is not here to assist Christian settlements that work to thwart the possibility of peace and security without occupation.”
Ayman Odeh, head of the Israeli-Arab Hadash-Ta’al party, said he “would like to convey a message to the orange man in the oval office.”
“The only solution that would guarantee security and dignity to Israelis and Palestinians is the end of the occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian country alongside Israel. Unilateral annexation is a war crime,” he said.