Photo Credit: Courtesy of the US Embassy in Jerusalem
Ambassador David Friedman attends the inauguration of Pilgrimage Road in the City of David, Jerusalem, June 30, 2019.

The US’ recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017 did generate an explosion in the Middle East as expected, but not one of violence but of peace, the US’ Ambassador to Israel David Friedman told the Knesset.

The Knesset’s Subcommittee on Policy and Strategy held on Monday a session in which it parted from Friedman towards the end of his term in Israel, with the entry of the Biden administration into the White House.

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Committee Chairman Member of Knesset (MK) Zvi Hauser noted that Friedman was “given the privilege of fulfilling the dreams of all of us, changing a historical distortion, and actually realizing the traditional position of the United States and its historical vision that the capital of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel is Jerusalem.”

The Abraham Accords, recently signed between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco are “the result of a stubborn American policy of recognizing the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and renewing their sovereignty in peace and security, and for all these and many other things we thank you.”

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin highlighted Friedman’s “tremendous contribution to US-Israel relations.”

“Relations today between the US and Israel, and between Israel and the Middle East are completely different after you have taken office. These things did not happen by chance and are the result of your personal vision and investment in things that seemed almost impossible. We still do not really digest the impact and meaning of everything you did,” he said.

“It is security coordination, which is essential for the existence of the State of Israel and the preservation of the interests of the United States as a world power, and cooperation between the countries, technology exchanges and more – all of which reached unparalleled heights thanks to many of your actions,” he added.

“Ambassador Friedman recorded himself in the Golden Book of the History of Jerusalem. This is something that few have earned. In a city with such a history, which is important to many all over the world, it is a powerful thing,” he said.

Freidman said that the US’ recognition of Israel’s sovereignty on the Golan Heights “was important, certainly also the issue of the illegality of settlements in Judea and Samaria, but if they ask me what was the most important achievement, it is the recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.”

“Paraphrasing what Jared Kushner said a few weeks ago during his visit here, everyone feared that the recognition of Jerusalem would lead to an explosion, but it turned out to be an explosion of peace and not violence,” he told the Knesset committee.

“In the end, the clear message to the Middle East is that Israel is not the problem but a solution to problems in the Middle East. This is not only the security issue, but also technology, commerce, and of course, in the context of a once-in-a-century epidemic,” he stated.

He concluded by saying that “to serve as my country’s ambassador to Israel is the greatest honor I have ever had in my life.”

“As the son of a rabbi, who was born and raised in the Diaspora, I turn to you and say that the future of the Jewish people is in your hands, and at this point in time, Israel is responsible for the future of the Jewish people and the future of Judaism. Consider that in 1941 there were 18 million Jews, in 1945 there were 12 million, and today we are with 15 million, which means that so far, we have not fully recovered from the Holocaust. On the other hand, in 1948 there were 600,000 Jews in Israel and today there are about seven million, so the entire growth of the Jewish world is taking place here in the State of Israel, so you have the responsibility to protect the Jewish people and Judaism. I know you can, but it’s a real challenge,” he said.

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Aryeh Savir is director of the International division of Tazpit News Agency.