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Palestine mulls ICC complaint against 'extremist' US envoy Friedman over West Bank annexation remarks

US Ambassador David Friedman has in the past been a supporter of Israeli settlements [Getty]

Date of publication: 9 June, 2019

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Palestinian officials are considering filing a complaint at the ICC against US ambassador David Friedman after he said Israel had the right to annex the occupied West Bank.
The Palestinian foreign ministry is considering filing a complaint with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against the US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, according to WAFA news agency.

The complaint would concern Friedman's comments, made in a New York Times interview published Saturday, in which he said Israel had the right to annex at least parts of the occupied West Bank.

The Palestinian Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Expatriates strongly criticised Friedman's logic in a Sunday press release.

"On what reality did he base his conviction? On international law prohibiting the annexation of territory by force? Or the reality imposed by the occupation authorities?"

In a statement late Saturday in response to the US ambassador, a Palestinian government spokesman said some leading US policy on the issue were "extremists" lacking in "political maturity."

Palestine Liberation Organisation Secretary-General Saeb Erekat on Twitter called Friedman an "extreme ambassador of the settlers".

"Their vision is about annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law," he said.

Erekat also renewed a Palestinian call for countries to boycott a June 25-26 conference in Bahrain in which the Trump administration is set to unveil the economic aspects of a long-awaited peace deal the White House has been working on.

In the interview published Saturday, Friedman said some degree of annexation of the occupied West Bank would be legitimate.

"Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank," he said.

Israel occupied the West Bank in the 1967 Six-Day War and its construction of settlements there is viewed as a major stumbling block to peace as they are built on land the Palestinians see as part of their future state.

Friedman has in the past been a supporter of Israeli settlements as has the family of Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump's son-in-law and a senior adviser who has led efforts to put together the peace deal.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu pledged ahead of April elections to begin annexing West Bank settlements.

Bringing settlements under Israeli sovereignty on a large-scale could end any remaining hopes for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

More than 600,000 Jewish settlers now live in the occupied West Bank and annexed east Jerusalem among some three million Palestinians.

On the long-delayed peace plan, Friedman said it was aimed at improving the quality of life for Palestinians but would fall well short of a "permanent resolution to the conflict".

Publication of the plan looks set to be further delayed after the Israeli parliament called a snap general election for September, the second this year. The plan is regarded as too sensitive to release during the campaign.

The Palestinian leadership has already rejected the plan, saying Trump's moves so far show him to be blatantly biased in favour of Israel.

Those moves include recognising the disputed city of Jerusalem as Israel's capital and cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars in aid to the Palestinians.

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