US ambassador urges ‘deeper ties’ between Israeli settlers, Palestinian businessmen

The US ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday urged deeper business ties between Israeli settlers and Palestinian businessmen in the occupied West Bank. Friedman, who was appointed by US President Donald Trump, was speaking in Jerusalem at a forum to encourage business links between Israeli settlements and Palestinians. “There are many, many Palestinians that would like to be freed up to engage in business ventures with Israelis, and they’re entitled to that opportunity,” Friedman told Reuters at the forum attended by Israeli government officials, international businessmen and a handful of Palestinians. Friedman’s remarks were immediately attacked by Palestinian officials as encouraging settlement activity in the West Bank, territory captured in a 1967 war and which Palestinians seek as part of a future state. Most of the world considers the settlements illegal under international law, a position Israel rejects.