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Israel occupies 'just 2 percent' of West Bank, says U.S. ambassador


In another worrying sign that US President Donald Trump might not be as wholly on Israel's side as some might have hoped, the Trump State Department on Thursday rebuffed its own ambassador to Israel for legitimizing Jewish settlements.

State Department officials were quick to insist that USA policy is that the settlements are not part of Israel and that this has not changed.

Friedman explained that a new Israeli-Palestinian peace plan is in the works, and will be presented in the coming months.

US State Department spokeswoman, Heather Nauert, said that remarks by US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, about settlements do not reflect US policy about the issue, news agencies reported on Friday. He said that he views West Bank settlements as part of Israel, with "important nationalistic, historic, religious significance", adding that the term "two-state solution" has lost its meaning.

David Friedman's comments were met with anger and ridicule, as Palestinians remain at odds with decades of U.S. policy in the Middle East.

Far from considering settlements to be part of Israel, American foreign policy has traditionally held that Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem is an obstacle to peace. "I think that was always the expectation when Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967".

"So there was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank", he continued.

A Palestinian opened fire at Israeli security personnel at the entrance to a West Bank settlement where he had worked, killing three and wounding another before being shot dead. And I think that's exactly what, you know, Israel has done.

Friedman, however, seemed to have misinterpreted the meaning of the resolution, saying the "idea was that Israel would be entitled to secure borders".

Israel captured the West Bank in the 1967 war.

The US' ambassador to Israel has been admonished by Washington DC for giving an interview in which he suggested that only two per cent of land in the West Bank is occupied by Israel. Israel's own Supreme Court regards the territory as being held under 'belligerent occupation, ' as defined by worldwide law.

The Palestinians have limited autonomy in 40 percent of the area, with Israel in full control over the remaining 60 percent.

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