Israeli Public Security Minister Praises U.S. Envoy Annexation Remarks

Gilad Erdan, the Minister of Communications and Home Front Protection, speaks with a soldier during the Home Front drill 'Turning Point 7' on May 27, 2013 in Nazareth-Ilit, Israel. The nationwide exercise tests the civilian population's response to a possible massive rocket attack from three fronts. (Photo by Ilia Yefimovich/Getty …
Ilia Yefimovich/Getty

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.”

 “The position of the majority of the Israeli society is that any future agreement will be based on having our control over [the West Bank,” Hanegbi said.
Economy Minister Eli Cohen (Kulanu) party also lauded Friedman’s comments, saying the time was ripe for countries to recognize Israeli sovereignty over the settlement blocs, including those in Jerusalem.
In the interview published by The New York Times on Saturday, Friedman said, “Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank.”
Palestinian officials were incensed by the remarks, with senior negotiator Saeb Erekat saying they proved the Trump administration’s bias in favor of Israel.
Senior Fatah member Mustafa Barghouti, said “Friedman has been identified a long time ago as the spokesman of the settlers.”

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.

.

Please let us know if you're having issues with commenting.