The US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, denied there was a crisis or differences in relations between US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Friedman denied there has been a rift in US-Israeli relations recently, neither on a personal level between Netanyahu and Trump, nor on the level of the two countries.
He said Trump's plan to settle the Palestinian issue, “deal of the century,” would be announced later in 2019 when Israel was ready.
Speaking to Israel's Jerusalem Post (JP), Friedman said the plan would make Israel stronger, safer, and satisfy all its supporters, regardless of their religious affiliations.
The Ambassador said he was very confident the deal will be announced in 2019, without specifying an exact date, noting that its announcement was delayed because of the Israeli elections.
The right-wing newspaper asked the Ambassador what he thought of Netanyahu's statements, ahead of the elections, in which he said he intended to annex Jordan’s al-Aghwar and north of the Dead Sea to Israel.
Friedman said the US administration prefers to deal with the annexation in a comprehensive framework without limitations.
Also, the Jerusalem Post asked Friedman about US silence after Trump recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights and Netanyahu's announcement that he would annex the Jordan Valley if re-elected.
“We like to approach all these issues holistically, and hopefully we will have a chance to do so. In the interim, the statements made by the prime minister are ones we don’t see as being inconsistent with a political solution, and so we kind of held our tongue because there was really nothing that called for comment beyond what we said.”
The envoy noted that from the US perspective, it wants to deal with all these issues in the context of an overall “resolution of the conflict, rather than piecemeal.”
Asked about an Israeli-US Security pact, Friedman asserted that any comments on it were “premature”, noting that conceptually it would be limited, at least on the Israeli side.
“An attack on Israel could provoke an overwhelming response by the strongest nation on earth. Beyond that, what are Israel’s obligations, how does it work, how does it impact on freedom of operation – the details really have to be sorted through and [then] people can assess whether it is a good or a bad idea.”
The Ambassador was harshly criticized taking a sledgehammer and inaugurating the City of David’s Pilgrimage Road under Palestinian homes.
However, he told JP he was very proud of that move and completely comfortable with what had happened.
The envoy went on to say that he understood the Palestinian perspective and Palestinians had every right to their wishes, political aspirations, beliefs, and their personal narratives. However, he claimed they “don’t have a right to their own facts… To resent the fact that science has corroborated what most of us already knew, I’m not sympathetic to that grievance.”