RNA - "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.
Friedman then accused the Obama administration of a “flagrant violation” of international law for allowing passage of a United Nations resolution in 2016 that condemned Israeli settlements, claiming the UN resolution gave the right to Palestinians.
Back then outgoing US President Barack Obama had admitted that the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories and the settlements built in the areas posed an obstacle to the Middle East peace efforts.
Friedman’s latest comments come ahead of a US conference in Bahrain later this month in which Trump’s “Deal of the Century” for peace in the Middle East is to be unveiled.
In the interview, Friedman also accused Palestinian leaders, who view Trump’s deal as a biased effort to sell out their rights, of wrongheadedly using “massive pressure” to dissuade participants from attending the Bahrain conference that the Trump administration is organizing.
Palestinians see the West Bank as part of a future independent Palestinian state with East Jerusalem al-Quds as its capital. Israelis, however, insists on maintaining the occupation of Palestinian territories.
Earlier this year, Trump recognized the Israeli regime's "sovereignty" over the Golan Heights, a Syrian territory under Israeli occupation since 1967. In December 2017, Trump's recognized Jerusalem al-Quds as Israel's so-called capital.
Palestinian leaders reacted to Friedman’s comments saying the US ambassador has become a spokesperson for the Israeli regime.
“Friedman has become the mouthpiece for racism and the Israeli apartheid system, instead of being the US ambassador,” Spokesman for the West Bank-based Fatah party, Usameh al-Ghawasimi.
He slammed the Friedman remarks, saying he was trying to mislead the truth and violate international law.
“Friedman's remarks violate the foundations agreed upon for the creation of an independent Palestinian state and international and regional peace and stability,” he added.
Ghawasimi noted that Friedman did not represent the US Constitution and American values which support justice and democracy, and instead he represented hatred, racism and infringement on the rights of the Palestinian people.
He called the Israeli settlements illegal and contrary to international law, adding that Friedman’s attempts to justify the settlement construction go in line with the conspiracy against the Palestinian people included within the "Deal of the Century "and the conference scheduled to be held in Bahrain.
The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas has also condemned the 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 stated on Saturday that remarks by Friedman 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.
Secretary General of Palestine Liberation Organization Executive Committee Saeb Erekat wrote on Twitter that "the vision of the American side to annex occupied territories is a war crime according to the international law".
He stated that “Trump’s ambassador provides enough background in order for everyone not to attend the Manama meeting: Their vision is about annexation of occupied territory, a war crime under international law”.
Nabil Shaath, an aide to President Mahmoud Abbas for foreign affairs and international relations, told Voice of Palestine Radio that the statements of the US ambassador "are totally rejected by all the Palestinians".
“We won't accept any American or Israeli steps and measures,” Shaath said, adding that the Palestinians “are sticking to their territories and will carry on with their struggle until they topple all the plots that aim at eliminating the Palestinian cause.”
Shaath, a veteran Palestinian negotiator, also noted that “practically, Israel still occupies area C in the West Bank, and any Israeli measures will be a violation to the international law”.
“US President Donald Trump protects and encourages the Israeli side to keep occupying other people's territories and violate the international law," stated Shaath, clarifying that "any peaceful solution must end the Israeli occupation.”
Also, Ibrahim Melhem, spokesman for the Palestinian government, condemned the statement by the US envoy.
Melhem described Friedman as an “ambassador of settlements”, saying such remarks are typical of the US arrogance and reflect that “the foreign policy of the superpower [the United States] is dominated by a group of hard-core extremists like [Jared] Kushner, [Jason] Greenblatt and Friedman who are not yet politically mature”.
“With friends like US Ambassador Friedman, who needs enemies,” asked Israeli rights group Peace Now, saying, “Such a move would fundamentally undermine Israeli interests, as Palestinians in favor of a two-state solution lose all credibility.”