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US envoy attends business forum in Ariel settlement

US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, spoke at a business event in Ariel settlement on 16 October, 2018 [Twitter]
US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, speaks at an event at the Ariel settlement on 16 October 2018 [Twitter]

US envoy to Israel, David Friedman, spoke at a business event in Ariel settlement yesterday, reportedly "the first ever official visit by a sitting American ambassador to a West Bank settlement".

According to the Jerusalem Post and Arutz Sheva, Friedman attended an event organised by the "Judea and Samaria [West Bank] Chamber of Commerce and Industry".

At the meeting, Friedman "met with a group of Israeli and Palestinian Arab business leaders to discuss joint economic ventures".

The ambassador subsequently tweeted: "At the invitation of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, I met in Ariel with Palestinian & Israeli business leaders ready, willing & able to advance joint opportunity & peaceful coexistence. People want peace & we are ready to help! Is the Palestinian leadership listening?"

Until Donald Trump's presidency, US ambassadors have not been allowed to cross the pre-1967 lines, much less visit the West Bank. However, as the Jerusalem Post noted, "from the moment Friedman arrived, he made condolence calls there and visited the Western Wall".

READ: The US will always recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, says Friedman

However, the paper continued, "this is the first time, however, that he went to a settlement to attend an official conference as a representative of the US government".

Ariel settlement lies deep in the northern West Bank. All Israeli settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem are illegal under international law.

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