Friedman: US Ready to Recognize West Bank Annexation ‘Within Weeks’

US envoy to Israel David Friedman with Israeli Prime Minister Banjamin Netanyahu. (Photo: FIle)

Israel is expected to annex large parts of the occupied West Bank within the coming weeks, the US envoy to Israel said on Wednesday.

US Ambassador David Friedman to Israel said that Washington would be “ready to recognize” the annexation of the Palestinian lands once the Israeli government had “declared sovereignty” over them.

Earlier this year, the Trump administration revealed its long-anticipated ‘Deal of the Century’ plan to counter the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The deal backs Israel’s annexation of more than a third of the occupied West Bank, including illegal settlements and the strategic Jordan Valley.

Israel in February began mapping the areas it seeks to seize control of as part of the plan, and is expected to finish that mapping process in the coming weeks, Friedman told Israel Hayom.

“The most important element is that the Israeli government must declare sovereignty. Israel needs first to declare it – and then we will be ready to recognize it,” Friedman said in an interview published on Wednesday.

Israel’s government led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is required to meet two conditions before Washington backs its annexation drive, one of which has already been met, the ambassador added.

“When the mapping process ends, and once the Israeli government agrees to freeze construction in parts of [the West Bank] not designated for [Israeli] sovereignty, and when the prime minister agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan – and he has already agreed to that this Sunday – we will recognize Israeli sovereignty,” Friedman was quoted as saying by i24 News.

According to the ‘Deal of the Century’, the US will officially recognize Israel’s illegal Jewish settlements in the occupied territories; Jerusalem will be the “undivided capital of Israel”; Gaza will have to be demilitarized and “there shall be no right of return” for Palestinian refugees.

(Palestine Chronicle, Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, Social Media)

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