US promise of Israeli sovereignty in Judea, Samaria enrages Palestinians

On the Israeli right, many welcomed Friedman’s comments, but others expressed concerns about the Trump plan.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

Comments by U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Wednesday to Israel Hayom sparked mixed reactions even among Israel’s Right. Not surprisingly, Palestinian leaders were furious.

Friedman promised that if Israel followed the peace plan set forth by President Donald Trump, the U.S. would be willing to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Jordan Valley and Judea and Samaria in the near future.

“When the mapping process ends, when the Israeli government agrees to freeze construction in Area C that is not designated for sovereignty, and when the Prime Minister agrees to negotiate with the Palestinians on the basis of the Trump plan – and he has already agreed to that from day one – we will recognize Israeli sovereignty in areas that according to the plan will become part of it [Israel],” said Friedman.

The Palestinian leadership was angered by Friedman’s remarks. Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas warned of serious consequences if the plan and subsequent annexation moved forward.

“If Israel annexes the Jordan Valley and parts of the West Bank, we will consider ourselves free of all previous agreements with Israel and America, and even consider withdrawing from the Oslo Accords,” he said in a speech to Fatah leadership in Ramallah on Wednesday.

A senior official in Ramallah told Israel Hayom that the Palestinian leadership is disappointed by the lack of support from the Arab states, who have not publicly denounced the Trump plan.

“We are alone in our fight,” the official said. “Jordan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries, now more than ever, need to maintain good relations with Washington and President Trump, so they prefer to abandon us in our battle.”

On the Israeli right, many welcomed Friedman’s comments, but others expressed concerns about the Trump plan. Yochai Damri, head of the Har Hebron Council, said he believed the plan was problematic.

Damri said he was worried about the fate of Jewish settlements within Arab enclaves, “and unfortunately, we have not received clarifications about this; it is impossible to abandon thousands of families to the mercy of the terrorists. The establishment of an Arab terrorist state within the Israeli territories is also a clear danger, and no government in Israel should agree to its establishment.”

Damri added, “The plan will deliver historical Biblical lands to a foreign terrorist entity. This is an unrealistic, unethical step, and experience shows it also poses clear danger to the citizens of the state.”

However, Oded Ravivi, the head of Efrat Regional Council, embraced the plan, urging Prime Minister Netanyahu to adopt it as soon as possible. “This is a test for the new government, the right in Israel and the leadership of the settlers, who must choose whether they prefer a bird in the hand or two in the bush,” he said.

“Courage is required from the leadership of the right and the settlers to say yes, despite the conditions and challenges. Yes to the program,” he added.