TEL AVIV – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman criticized the prospective ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas, saying that rehabilitating Gaza without the Palestinian Authority on board would be a “tremendous prize” for the terror group.
“There is no capacity to have peace with the Palestinians unless there’s peace with all the Palestinians, including the million and a half in Gaza,” Friedman said in a telephone briefing Tuesday with members of the American Jewish Congress, Haaretz reported Thursday.
He clarified that this meant “there should be ideally one (Palestinian) government. … If you go around the PA and somehow try to restructure Gaza without them, you’re giving a tremendous prize to Hamas. … With all the failings of the PA, if the choice is Hamas we pick the PA.”
Friedman confirmed a statement by U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton that there was still no final date for the unveiling of the Trump administration’s peace plan, and that it will not be presented at the upcoming UN General Assembly session.
“If we can’t make a big deal we should make as many small deals as we can and improve people’s lives and level of coexistence,” the U.S. envoy said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly slammed the Israel-Hamas ceasefire agreement, saying such a deal would only be reached “over my dead body.”
“If the agreement is signed without the PA’s permission, it is illegal and constitutes treason,” Abbas said in private conversations, according to Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party.
In his private phone call to the AJC members, Friedman also addressed the issue of Iranian entrenchment in Syria, accusing Russia of not doing enough to push Iranian forces out of the war-torn country.
According to Friedman, Israel was sending clear threats to the Russians as well as to Syrian President Bashar Assad that “Assad will quickly become a target.”
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that the Syria-Iran military deal struck earlier in the week would not deter Israel from targeting Iranian troops and weapons in Syria.
“Whoever threatens us with our demise puts himself in similar danger, and anyway won’t achieve what they set out to do,” Netanyahu said.
“The IDF will continue to act with full determination and strength against Iran’s attempts to station forces and advanced weapons systems in Syria,” Netanyahu said during an address at a ceremony in the southern city of Dimona.
“No threat will deter us,” he added.