Donald Trump’s adviser on Israel said on Wednesday that Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank were not illegal and he believed the Republican candidate agreed with him, putting them at odds with much of the world.
Following a pro-Trump rally at Jerusalem’s Mount Zion, David Friedman also said the US presidential candidate was “tremendously sceptical” about the prospects for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
“I don’t think he believes that the settlements are illegal,” he told AFP.
Friedman reiterated a pledge made by Trump in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu last month to recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s “undivided” capital and move the US embassy there if he is elected president.
The move would put Washington at odds with most UN member states
The United States has intensified criticism of Israeli settlement building in the West Bank in recent months, warning it is eating away at hopes for a two-state solution.
Earlier this month, the White House issued an unusually sharp rebuke against Israel over its plans to build hundreds of new settlement homes deep in the occupied West Bank, saying it jeopardizes prospects of peace with Palestinians and Israel’s own security.
In a similarly strong-worded statement, the State Department said building the units “is another step toward cementing a one-state reality of perpetual occupation”.
The plan not only undermines hopes for peace with the Palestinians but “is fundamentally inconsistent with Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state”, spokesperson Mark Toner said.
Settlements in the West Bank are deemed illegal under international law and major stumbling blocks to peace efforts as they are built on land seized in the 1967 Middle East war and which the Palestinians see as part of their future state