(JTA) — Israel Ambassador David Friedman’s comments on the West Bank and Israeli settlements do not indicate a change in U.S. policy, a State Department spokeswoman said.
Friedman told the Israeli news site Walla on Thursday that Israel was occupying only 2 percent of the West Bank, that the two-state solution “had lost its meaning” and that settlements are part of Israel. The statements depart from longstanding U.S. policy.
The U.S. has opposed settlement building, supported the establishment of a Palestinian state alongside Israel and brokered the 1993 Oslo Accords, under which Israel fully controls 60 percent of the West Bank.
President Donald Trump has distanced himself from the policy of previous administrations and has yet to call for a Palestinian state. But on Friday, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert distanced the U.S. from Friedman’s comments.
“His comments should not be read as a way to prejudge the outcome of any negotiations that the U.S. would have with the Israelis and the Palestinians,” she said regarding Friedman.
When she was asked to clarify how much of the West Bank is occupied, Nauert said, “I don’t know that we have a map of that,” though countless maps of the territory are available.