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Hamas slams US envoy for condoning Israeli settlements

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A picture taken on April 19, 2019 shows construction works underway in an Israeli settlement near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. (AFP photo)

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has condemned US envoy for his remarks condoning Israel’s expansionist policy on illegal settlements, saying they reflect Washington’s extremist view on the issue.

Member of Hamas' International Relations Office Basem Naim said Saturday that remarks earlier in the day by David Friedman, who serves as the US ambassador to the occupied Palestinian territories, represented “the destructive thinking of the extreme American leadership.”

“The statements of the American ambassador are completely consistent with the view of the most extreme Israeli right-wing and a disregard of the US government for all Arab positions,” said Naim, whose Hamas government sits in the besieged Gaza Strip but is allied to the Palestinian Authority in the occupied West Bank.

The statement came after Friedman said Israel has a right to claim parts of the occupied West Bank as it seeks to annex the territory despite all international bans on the move.

“Under certain circumstances, I think Israel has the right to retain some, but unlikely all, of the West Bank,” Friedman said in an interview published by the New York Times on Saturday.

The remarks has caused an outrage both in the Middle East and around the world at a time when many believe Washington is violating international regulations by allowing Israel to expand its settlements into territories occupied after the 1967 Six-Day War.

Palestinian officials in the West Bank reiterated that Friedman’s remarks represented a crime under international law.

Saeb Erekat, a top PA negotiator, said the remarks showed that US government was heavily biased in favor of Israel despite pretending that it seeks peace in the occupied territories.

“Their vision is about annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law,” Erekat said in a tweet.

Usameh al-Ghawasimi, a spokesman for the West Bank-based Fatah party, said Friedman was trying to mislead the truth and violate international law.

“Friedman has become the mouthpiece for racism and the Israeli apartheid system, instead of being the US ambassador,” said Ghawasimi, adding, “Friedman's remarks violate the foundations agreed upon for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and international and regional peace and stability.”

European governments have repeatedly criticized US President Donald Trump for his policy on the Palestinian issue, especially his move in late 2017 to recognize the occupied Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel’s capital.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian on Saturday reiterated France and the European Union’s opposition to the decision and said Trump administration’s still-secret plan for creating peace in the occupied territories was “an approach that cannot grant serenity.”

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