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Jewish peace group slams US ambassador’s visit to Israel 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]

A Jewish-American peace group has slammed US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman for visiting the Israeli settlement of Ariel built north of the occupied West Bank.

In response to Friedman’s visit, J Street Vice President of Government Affairs Dylan Williams issued a statement in which he said that “by making an official public appearance at an event in an Israeli West Bank settlement, Ambassador Friedman once again crossed a major, longstanding red line of bipartisan US policy.”

“The Trump administration continues to send a clear message of support for the settlement movement and the agenda of the Israeli right. Indeed, the ambassador, himself a longtime benefactor of the settlement movement, has actively worked to erode the distinction between Israel and the occupied territory it controls beyond the Green Line,” he added.

Williams warned that with such unprecedented actions like these, “the Trump administration is driving home the point that they have no real interest in promoting a two-state solution to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — now or in the future.”

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Friedman said Wednesday on Twitter that he had visited the settlement, using the term “Judea and Samaria”, the Israeli designation for the occupied West Bank.

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”.

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