JERUSALEM — The U.S. ambassador in Jerusalem says Israel has the right to retain parts, but not all, of the West Bank.
David Friedman's remarks in an interview with The New York Times published Saturday comes about two months after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu vowed to begin annexing parts of the West Bank.
"Under certain circumstances," Friedman said, "I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank. ... Certainly, Israel's entitled to retain some portion of it," Friedman said.
It's unclear if the ambassador was revealing a component of the long-awaited Trump administration Mideast peace plan.
As for what the United States would do if Israel unilaterally annexed the West Bank, Friedman was noncommittal.
"We really don't have a view until we understand how much, on what terms, why does it make sense, why is it good for Israel, why is it good for the region, why does it not create more problems than it solves," Friedman said. "These are all things that we'd want to understand, and I don't want to prejudge."
The Palestinians want statehood in the West Bank and Gaza, with a capital in east Jerusalem. Last year, Washington announced it recognized the city as Israel's capital.
The Palestinians condemned Friedman's remarks, and Israeli group Peace Now said he was "a Trojan horse on behalf of the settler right," calling on Trump to fire him.
Most of the world considers Israeli settlements in the West Bank and east Jerusalem illegal. Both Friedman and Trump son-in-law and Middle East adviser Jared Kushner have made financial contributions to West Bank settlements. Both are Orthodox Jews.
In March, Trump recognized the occupied Golan Heights, seized in 1967, as part of Israel — a break with 50 years of American foreign policy. Most of the world community sees the territory as Syrian.