US Envoy Says Israel Has ‘Right’ to Annex Parts of West Bank

Fatah officials say move shows US has abandoned two-state solution

In an interview with the New York Times over the weekend, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman declared that Israel has a “right” to annex some, although like “not all” of the occupied West Bank.

It has long been the position of the international community that territory Israel occupied militarily is just that, occupied territory, and cannot just be unilaterally annexed. President Trump, however, already endorsed Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights, and this seems to be a green light for Israel to start consolidating parts of the West Bank.

Annexations in the West Bank have long been a position of settler movements, and this led Palestinian officials to criticize Friedman’s comments, saying the US is taking the position of extremist settlers now.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had already indicated that if reelected he’d move ahead toward annexations in the West Bank. Despite him openly discussing that, the US denies any discussions have taken place on annexations.

Though Friedman did not indicate how much he thinks they can take, Israel has already annexed parts of the West Bank, so far just by expanding the borders of Jerusalem deep into West Bank territory and declaring that all part of the “eternal” capital.

Though annexation of the Golan Heights was comparatively simple for Israel as a practical matter, with the Syrians largely chased out at the time of the occupation, the West Bank potentially is more problematic, because of all the Palestinians living there.

Though the intention of annexation is to ensure that the Palestinians can’t get their own state, Israel may have to figure out some way to annex the land while still keeping the people who live in the land dispossessed. While Israel has historically been comfortable with having an Arab minority with few rights and no political power, actually absorbing the Palestinians along with Palestine would give those Arabs substantial voting power, and clearly would not be endorsed by the same far-right factions that want to keep the land.

Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.