The US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, reportedly warned a group of Jewish American leaders that the removal of West Bank settlers could spark civil war, reported Israel's Channel 10.
Friedman made the remarks "during a meeting with a delegation from the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organisations".
According to the report, Friedman told the closed-door meeting "that a massive evacuation of Jewish settlements from the West Bank could lead to a civil war in Israel".
The US envoy said that the approximately 400,000 settlers who live in the West Bank "are not going anywhere…and significant evacuation could result in a civil war. This is my opinion".
Friedman also told attendees that:
Israel's military is more and more being led by 'Religious Zionists' who are committed to this land because they see it as their God-given Land
According to the report, Friedman said that the Trump administration "is realistic and is not overselling the prospects of a peace deal", but "is committed to trying to reach one".
A spokesperson for the US embassy noted how Channel 10 based their report "upon three attendees at the conference who failed to provide much of the context behind Ambassador Friedman's comments as well as significant additional and related remarks by the Ambassador".
Explaining Friedman's comment on the settlements, the spokesperson added that "the Ambassador believes that unrestrained settlement growth is not helpful for peace".
Stephen M. Greenberg and Malcolm Hoenlein, chairman and CEO of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations, respectively, said: "The words attributed to [Friedman] were taken out of context, are incomplete, and are therefore a distortion of the ambassador's remarks."