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  • Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman talk after watching a video of Israel's U.S.-backed Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield performing a series of live interception tests over Alaska.

    Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman talk after watching a video of Israel's U.S.-backed Arrow-3 ballistic missile shield performing a series of live interception tests over Alaska. | Photo: Reuters

Published 9 February 2020
Opinion

“Israel is subject to the completion (of) a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee," U.S. envoy in Israel said.

United States Ambassador David Friedman to Israel warned the country Sunday not to declare sovereignty over the occupied West Bank without Washington’s consent, opposing calls for immediate action by ultra-nationalists within Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition.

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With Defence Minister Naftali Bennett and other ultra-nationalists urging an immediate cabinet vote on sovereignty in the occupied West Bank, Friedman intervened.

“Israel is subject to the completion (of) a mapping process by a joint Israeli-American committee. Any unilateral action in advance of the completion of the committee process endangers the Plan & American recognition,” he tweeted.

The ambassador said in a separate speech that his message was “a little bit of patience, to go through a process, to do it right, is not something which we think is too much to ask for.”

U.S. President Donald Trump’s Middle East peace proposal, unveiled on Jan. 28, expects that the Jewish state will keep key swathes of the occupied territory where Palestinians hope to see their future, independent state. 

Netanyahu initially pledged a speedy “application of Israeli law” - de facto annexation - to Jewish settlement blocs and the Jordan Valley, delighting his religious-rightist base ahead of Israel’s March 2 election, where he hopes to win a fifth term. But he was forced to backpedal after the White House made clear it wanted a U.S.-Israeli mapping process completed first.

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The Palestinians, for their part, have rejected the plan.

“Any unilateral step is rejected whether it is taken before or after the election,” said spokesman for Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, Nabil Abu Rdainah, adding that “facts can’t be created on the ground and they will never become a reality...the only thing we can accept is the Palestinian map on the 1967 borders."

The international community considers Israeli settlements on territories captured in the 1967 war as a breach of international law but Trump has changed U.S. policy to withdraw such objections.

Palestinians say the settlements make a future state unviable. Israel cites security needs as well as biblical and historical ties to the land on which they are built.

On Saturday, Netanyahu told an election rally that the mapping process with the U.S. was already underway.

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