The US ambassador to Israel David Friedman has said that he sees Jewish settlements constructed on Palestinian land in the West Bank as part of the State of Israel.
In an interview with Walla news website published yesterday Friedman said: "I think the settlements are part of Israel. I think that was always the expectation when [United Nations] Resolution 242 was adopted in 1967, and it remains today the only substantive resolution that was agreed on by everybody".
"There should always have been a concept of expansion towards the West Bank, but not necessarily all the West Bank, and that's exactly what Israel did," Friedman said, claiming that Israel controls only 2 per cent of the West Bank.
"Obviously, there are important security considerations to those settlements, there's important nationalistic, historical and religious significance to those settlements and I think the settlers view themselves as Israelis, and Israel views the settlers as Israelis," he added.
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Asked if any part of the settlements would be evacuated as part of a future settlement Friedman declined to give a clear answer saying only, "we will wait and see".
The Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said during a meeting with leaders of the Settlements Council that he had met with Friedman and the US president's special envoy, Jason Greenblatt and that he "succeeded in convincing the Americans that there is no difference between the settlement blocs and settlements".
Netanyahu added that he had reviewed future building plans in the settlements which would include the construction of 3,000 housing units that will be approved after the Jewish holiday.