Photo Credit: Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
US ambassador to Israel David Friedman, October 24, 2018. / Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

The most important message of the Trump administration to Israel’s rightwing and other patriotic politicians was delivered via teleconference on Tuesday, 1:15 PM EST, by US ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, to a bunch of reporters in Washington, DC.

[Full readout at the bottom of this article]

Advertisement



If you remove everything else the ambassador said in his ten minutes on the call, dubbed “on-the-record press call on the prospects for peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” here’s the gem inside that seemingly off-the-cuff banter:

“If the Israelis apply Israeli law to the settlements and to the territory that you’ll see soon enough is allocated to Israel under the plan […] then we will recognize Israeli sovereignty.”

It’s the line you take to the bank. It’s the line that is not conditioned on anything, not on Palestinian concessions, not on settlement freezes, not on the success of yet another American peace plan going nowhere fast. It is a call by a senior Trump administration official to Israel to annex an estimated 30% (and I usually abhor people who use caps in their writing, but here goes:) NOW.

If that wasn’t clear enough, then his answer to reporter Jordan Fabian from Bloomberg News should do it.

Q Hi, this is Jordan Fabian from Bloomberg News. Thanks for doing the call. I’m hoping you can just offer some clarity on the terms of this four-year freeze: So, you know, is this a settlement freeze? Will Israel be prevented from expanding existing settlements? And will Israel be allowed to annex the territory that under this deal will be included as part of the, you know, future State of Israel right away, or will they have to wait four years?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: No. No. Israel — Israel does not have to wait — does not have to wait at all. The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration, the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with conceptual map.

The rest was familiar verbiage about the Trump deal of the century, which was interesting, to be sure, but powerless to overcome the tribal nature of Arab society which has been told to act as a Palestinian nation but doesn’t have a clue as to what it means to be a nation, never mind Palestinian.

“Hi, everyone. This is David Friedman,” the ambassador, who by now is probably standing on the same golden pedestal of honorable Jews who truly love their Jewish brothers and sisters: Moses Montefiore comes to mind, as do Baron Abraham Edmond Benjamin James de Rothschild, and Theodor Herzl. I’d put Ezra and Nehemiah up there, too. Oh, and Queen Esther, she also belongs up there, I believe.

“We refer to it as a realistic two-state solution,” spake David Friedman. “It is, of course, a two-state solution, but it contemplates a pathway for the Palestinians to statehood. But it mitigates many of the risks that were never solved in past negotiations.”

I truly hope so, by the way. In the past, every single peace plan left a trail of dead Jews in its wake. I don’t trust the ability of pieces of paper to alter the bestiality of our enemies. I’m the son of a Holocaust survivor, trust in goyim is not in my DNA. It had been surgically removed in Auschwitz before I was born.

The plan, said Ambassador Friedman with all the hopefulness he could muster,

“creates a path to financing this new state. And it works within a security regime that will result in Israel taking no incremental risks, because Israel will have the overriding security responsibility and control over the entire territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.”

I liked the “financing” part, because I believe that our chance for any modus vivendi with the Palestinians resides not in the motley crew of highway robbers and murderers in Ramallah and Gaza City, but in a bourgeoisie and a middle class that will emerge in the liberated territories, with Arab job creators: industrialists, financiers, hi-tech innovators, modern farmers, vendors, allowed to thrive in freedom from the terrorists who sit on their backs today.

I also like the plan to maintain a careful and watchful control of the Palestinian experiment by Israel’s security apparatus. I want continued overnight raids in search of Hamas and Fatah agents of death. I want security profiling at check posts and in the airport. I want not a single new Jewish “victim of peace,” not one.

Under those very serious restrictions, I’m willing to listen as Ambassador Friedman explains:

“In terms of the allocation of territory within the West Bank, the majority of it […] is allocated for the Palestinians, but a meaningful portion as well is allocated to the State of Israel. That would include the Jordan Valley and the Jewish settlements. […] It’s roughly half of Area C – [while] about 30 percent in total of the West Bank would be allocated to Israel.”

Says the ambassador:

“…in exchange for Israel keeping that territory open and making the commitment to negotiate, the territory allocated to Israel will be subject to American recognition of sovereignty, subject, of course, to the State of Israel itself putting together a detailed plan that they can then legally present within their own internal requirements and then present to the United States. So we bridge this asymmetry (70% to the Arabs, only 30% to the Jews – DI) by providing certain benefits to Israel up front in exchange for Israel keeping the option open to the Palestinians for a very lengthy period of time.”

Listen to what the Trump administration is telling us from the lips of its most popular living ambassador: Don’t worry about what the Arabs will do – for all we know, they’ll keep shooting themselves in the foot like they always do – you get your reward up front. Get a plan of annexation together – take the whole weekend if you have to – and annex the living daylight out of your rightfully owned Area C settlements.

It’s a message to the good people of the regional councils in Judea and Samaria, who have already declared they’re against the plan for a Palestinian state, even if it means no sovereignty.

Don’t be idiots, says Ambassador Friedman.

Ask yourselves what would David Ben-Gurion do? Refuse to deal unless he gets everything, now, or take whatever he can get his hands on and declare a Jewish state there. Come on, people, you know there’ll never be a Palestinian state, because there are no Palestinians – the only time Arabs call themselves Palestinians is when there’s a bunch of Jews nearby. Their allegiance is to their own clan first, and then to the great Arab Uma-nation out there, from the sands of Arabia to the Maghreb mountains. They have no use for a Palestinian state other than as a vehicle to make money and get rid of the folks from the clan across the wadi.

Negba Homa ve-Migdal (Tower and Stockade) / Math Knight and Zachi Evenor via Wikimedia

In the dangerous and blood soaked years of the 1936–39 Arab Revolt in Mandatory Palestine, the brave men and women of the Zionist movement invented Choma U’Migdal (Tower and Stockade). The establishment of new Jewish settlements was legally restricted by the British authorities, but the British generally gave their tacit accord to the Tower and Stockade actions as a means of countering the Arab revolt.

During the course of the Tower and Stockade campaign, some 57 Jewish settlements, including 52 kibbutzim and several moshavim, were established throughout the country. The legal base was a Turkish Ottoman law that was in effect during the Mandate period, which stated that no illegal building may be demolished if the roof has been completed. So our guys built the roof first.

They built 57 settlements in less than three years. We can surely annex a few dozen settlements in less time than that, can’t we? I recommend finishing the job by Sunday morning.

Just ask yourselves: what would Ben-Gurion have done?


ON-THE-RECORD PRESS CALL
BY U.S. AMBASSADOR TO ISRAEL, DAVID FRIEDMAN
ON THE PROSPECTS FOR PEACE
BETWEEN ISRAEL AND THE PALESTINIANS

Via Teleconference

1:15 P.M. EST

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: Thank you. Hi, everyone. This is David Friedman. I just want to answer your questions and perhaps begin by amplifying some of the points which you hopefully heard in the presentations by President Trump and Prime Minister Netanyahu.

I think the main point I would make is that this is a huge advancement in the peace process. For the first time in 52 years, the State of Israel has delineated, not just in words, but in pictures and a map as well. The State of Israel has delineated the terms under which it is prepared to make territorial compensations for the creation of a Palestinian state, the terms and conditions under which it would do so, the size of that territory, and the requirements that would be in place for a final agreement.

We refer to it as a realistic two-state solution. It is, of course, a two-state solution, but it contemplates a pathway for the Palestinians to statehood. But it mitigates many of the risks that were never solved in past negotiations.

It creates a Palestinian footprint which is more than double the existing territory that they have now in Areas A and B of the West Bank. It provides for a high-speed rail connection between Gaza and the West Bank. These areas have historically been — obviously, they’re geographically separated and they’re separated politically and in many other respects.

It will — through land swaps that you’ll see once the map is released, which should be later on today, it enhances the territorial footprint of Gaza, so people in Gaza can expand their own territory, which is obviously cramped.

It creates a path to financing this new state. And it works within a security regime that will result in Israel taking no incremental risks, because Israel will have the overriding security responsibility and control over the entire territory from the Jordan River to the Mediterranean Sea.

Now, in terms of the allocation of territory within the West Bank, the majority of it will –- is allocated for the Palestinians, but a meaningful portion as well is allocated to the State of Israel. That would include the Jordan Valley and the Jewish settlements that would –- that have been put in place. It’s roughly half of Area C — about 30 percent in total of the West Bank — that would be allocated to Israel.

We confront an important issue here, which is the asymmetry between Israel and the Palestinians. You have a modern, first-world, strong, democratic nation trying to make peace with a highly divided and challenged people and a series of different governments. So how do you make — how do you make a deal when one side is Israel and the one side is the Palestinians?

So what we tried to do is to create a runway for the Palestinians of four years. The territory that –- the incremental territory that Israel is willing to compromise to the Palestinians is held frozen, essentially, for four years. So the Palestinians are not penalized by the passage of time. That area will not be encumbered by any further development.

And Israel, of course, will agree –- whenever the Palestinians are ready to negotiate –- statehood with the Palestinians based upon the President’s vision for peace.

And in exchange for Israel keeping that territory open and making the commitment to negotiate, the territory allocated to Israel will be subject to American recognition of sovereignty, subject, of course, to the State of Israel itself putting together a detailed plan that they can then legally present within their own internal requirements and then present to the United States.

So we bridge this asymmetry by providing certain benefits to Israel up front in exchange for Israel keeping the option open to the Palestinians for a very lengthy period of time.

As you know, Israel, I think, has agreed to some settlement freezes in the past of much, much shorter durations. This is a much larger commitment — a very significant commitment that I think requires –- you know, requires in kind, a commitment back from the United States.

That’s the shorthand version of it. I think we only have about 10 minutes or so on the call. So maybe we’ll take three questions or so from whoever is interested.

Q Hi, this is Andrew Feinberg with Breakfast Media. Thanks for doing this. In 2003, there was that “Roadmap for Peace,” and the Israeli cabinet approved a bunch of conditions that Palestinians would have to meet. Are any of those –- such as dismantling the Palestinian Security Services -– still part of this plan? What exactly would the Palestinians have to do under this, besides just accept the territorial framework that’s being put forth?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: So there are some specific requirements that are unique to past malign activities. So there would have to be a complete dismantling of Hamas, Islamic jihad, other Salafist terrorist groups. They would have to agree to this framework.

The Palestinian Authority –- or a similar authority that would be acceptable to Israel –- would have to gain control of the Gaza Strip. There would have to be an end to incitement in textbooks and otherwise the compensation of terrorists. As the President said, the “pay for slay” practice would have to end.

And then, more generically, you know, neither the United States nor Israel really wants its fingerprints on a failed Palestinian state. And so in order to make sure that state were to succeed, we’re expecting them to adopt, you know, a reasonable regime of respecting human rights, freedom of religion; an end to financial corruption; obviously, a justice system.

You know, just at the most simple level, we’re trying to raise billions of billions of dollars of financial investment into the future state of Palestine. In order for that to happen, there needs to be a rule of law, enforcement of contracts. I mean, it has to become a country where we can raise capital.

So all of those things are the conditions that will have to be made over the next four years.

Q Right. Right. One other question. We’ve heard a lot from the President’s attorneys over the past few days about his sincere concerns about corruption. Do those concerns about dealing with corrupt foreign officials extend to Prime Minister Netanyahu, who has just been indicted on corruption charges?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: Look, we’re –- our focus is entirely on a diplomatic level. The United States has been dealing with the Prime Minister of Israel for many, many years with outstanding results. The Israeli internal legal system will take its course. We’re not going to weigh in on that. We’re assuming everyone is innocent until proven guilty.

Next question?

Q Hi, (inaudible), Ami Magazine. Thanks for doing this call. Can you hear me?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: I can hear you, yeah. Go ahead.

Q All right. So I’ve got some questions. The first one is: This plan has been in the works for over two years, so what is the significance behind the timing? Why now? And then I have another question about settlements that I’ll ask after you respond.

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: So “why now” is –- you know, we’ve had this really fully baked since before the first election and we were anxious to put it out. We were asked to wait until the elections were over, and we did.

The second time around, we waited again. Even after the elections, we were asked to wait until a government formation. And we honored all those requests. Our goal is not to force anything upon anybody.

As we saw the third election come around, we looked at the polls and, frankly, we don’t see any -– anything that indicates anything but the same result of the first two times. I could be wrong, but those are –- that’s what the polling is.

Today, we spoke to the Prime Minster and said, “You know we’re sort of running out of time. We’d like to do this when the President has the opportunity to give it all the attention that it deserves before he goes deeper into the election season. And what is your feeling? Is this something that you can live with during the election season?” And he said he could.

And so, you know, rather than this be perceived as being political, we’re going to check with Benny Gantz as well. And so I spent, I don’t know, 20 hours or so with Benny Gantz and his people sharing with them the plan.

Obviously, we had many more discussions with the Prime Minister over a longer period of time. But I sat with Benny Gantz and his people, and, you know, to my — to my delight, I found that, you know, both the Gantz group and the Netanyahu (inaudible) were both fully in favor of the plan, and both wanted it to come out. And our feeling was, “Well, since we have the two people, one of whom for certain could be the prime minister of the next government, if they’re both in accord and they’re both willing to support it, then we depoliticize this issue and we can put it out.”

So it evolved in that manner, and that’s when we decided to put it out. It really wasn’t tied to anything other than having achieved an agreement with the two leaders of the country that they were both going to support it and we could put it out in a nonpolitical way.

Q Okay, and then regarding the settlement, if the Palestinian leadership does not agree to this deal, what would the status of the settlements in Judea and Samaria be like? Would they no longer be considered Israeli territory? Like, what is going to happen then?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: Well, it doesn’t really matter in the short run what the Palestinians say. We’re going to keep this option open for them for four years. That’s what we want. We don’t want to turn this into a — into a circumstance where anybody feels pressured to accept it right away on pain of consequence.

So the way we have this now, we think it’s an incredibly important concession from Israel to preserve this option for four years. And what we’ve agreed to doing in exchange for that is if the Israelis, again, do that and commit to the plan, we will recognize — if the Israelis apply Israeli law to the settlements and to the territory that you’ll see soon enough is allocated to Israel under the plan — which is, again, a minority, a significant minority of the West Bank — then we will recognize Israeli sovereignty.

And from the Palestinians’ perspective, they’re still in the game. They have four years to study it. And hopefully, if they can agree to come to the table, we’ll support continued negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians on all the issues.
Next question?

Q Hi, this is Jordan Fabian from Bloomberg News. Thanks for doing the call. I’m hoping you can just offer some clarity on the terms of this four-year freeze: So, you know, is this a settlement freeze? Will Israel be prevented from expanding existing settlements? And will Israel be allowed to annex the territory that under this deal will be included as part of the, you know, future State of Israel right away, or will they have to wait four years?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: No. No. Israel — Israel does not have to wait — does not have to wait at all. The waiting period would be the time it takes for them to obtain internal approvals and to obviously create the documentation, the calibration, the mapping that would enable us to evaluate and make sure it’s consistent with conceptual map.

When you see the map, you’ll see the map is on a scale of about 100,000 to 1. So you really can’t do anything (inaudible) anything that generalized.

But, no, Israel — it will have to go through its own process, whatever that process is. I’m not an expert. And if they determine that they wish to apply Israeli law to those (inaudible) allocated to Israel, we will recognize it.

At the same time, they’re committed to negotiating a two-state solution for the next four years with the Palestinians, even if the Palestinians reject it in the short run. And the territory that is allocated to the Palestinians, which includes no settlements — or to the extent it does, and in minor cases, those settlements will not be able to expand.

But, you know, the vast majority of that territory that’s allocated to the Palestinians will be frozen. There will be no Israeli building. There will be no Palestinian building. It’s going to sit there to preserve the territorial integrity of this two-state solution, which hopefully the Palestinians will rise up and claim their prize. So that’s — that is the way this is structured.

We’ll do one more question.

Q Hi, this is (inaudible) from (inaudible) News. Ambassador Friedman, thanks for doing this. Do you have any concerns about the Palestinian participation and the message that it sends to have this announcement without anybody from the Palestinian side up there with the President? What’s your — what’s your take on that?

AMBASSADOR FRIEDMAN: Look, you know, I think — I think our — if we could be in a more active trilateral negotiation, sure, we’d love to have more conversations with them. But at the end of the day, the society is largely fractured, especially between the PA and Hamas and given all the internal issues there.

Our goal is to demonstrate to the Palestinians that there is a state that they can aspire to and achieve; that they can meet many of the aspirations that they seek; that there is a better life for them. And because they’re not at the table, and we recognize they’re not at the table, we want to give them time. It’s a very, very critical component to this. They have time. They have four years to figure this out, have more discussions.

So this is not take it or leave it. It’s not — it’s not — it’s not, you know, “if you don’t agree within the next X number of days, we’re pulling this deal.” It’s theirs for the taking, and that’s the way we mitigate the fact that they’re not at the table now.

We’re hoping to capture the imagination of the Palestinian people. We think we’re offering them a lot. It’s a significant expansion of their footprint and statehood and financing. And frankly, a lot of the requirements that we impose in terms of human rights and freedom of religion and freedom of the press, the Palestinian people should be ecstatic about that, because I think many of them only wish that their government provided such protections.

So we’re going to take as long as it takes to try to, you know, walk this through. It’s the first day. There’s a lot to absorb; it’ll take a little bit more time. But that’s the whole point: They’re not here today, but they have four years to really figure this out. And I think that’s more than enough time.
Okay? Thanks, everybody. Appreciate your interest.

END 1:35 P.M. EST

Advertisement

SHARE
Previous articleWorld’s Reaction to Trump’s Peace Plan Iffy to Outright Hostile
Next articleSovereignty Movement Reacts to the “Deal of the Century”
David writes news at JewishPress.com.