Netanyahu to Departing U.S. Envoy: ‘There Was Never a Better Ambassador’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left and David Friedman, right, the new United States Ambassador to Israel attend a ceremony celebrating the 50th anniversary of the liberation and unification of Jerusalem, in front of the walls of the Old City of Jerusalem, Sunday, May 21, 2017. Israel captured the Old …
Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Sunday hailed President Donald Trump’s envoy to Israel David Friedman, saying “there was never a better ambassador.”

Addressing Friedman at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting, Netanyahu said:

Over the years I have met many ambassadors from many countries, including from the U.S., our great ally, but I can say that there was never a better ambassador than David Friedman in establishing the deep ties between Israel and the U.S.

He praised the outgoing ambassador for “correcting the diplomatic injustices that were created over the years in global diplomacy regarding Israel and in establishing the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and many other things some of which have yet to be told.”

“We know that you were very active in bringing about the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, itself a correction of an injustice that is difficult to understand,” the prime minister said.

“You also acted to encourage recognition of our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is also so natural and so necessary both from the perspective of justice and that of our security,” he went on.

Netanyahu also noted Friedman’s role, together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, in acting to “change the approach” toward Jewish settlements in the West Bank, by making it clear that Jewish presence in those areas do not contravene international law and by changing the State Department’s definition of those areas from occupied territories to disputed territories. He said:

You were a central element in planning and formulating the Trump [peace] plan, which is the first serious plan for achieving a realistic peace between Israel and the Palestinians. What it has beyond security is – first of all – the need for the Palestinians to recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.

The absence of Palestinian recognition of Jewish statehood is the “root of this conflict,” Netanyahu asserted.

“You also worked beyond this to expand the circle of peace and cancel the Palestinian veto that stemmed from denial of the State of Israel, in effect to wreck this veto and overcome it so that we would be able to reach peace with countries in the Arab world and the four peace agreements we made over the last four months as well as those that will come afterward,” Netanyahu said, referring to the so-called Abraham Accords between Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco.

“This was a great effort that is good for the U.S. relations, good for Israel, and good for peace,” the prime minister asserted.

Turning to Iran, Netanyahu said. “We’ve also made history by resisting Iran’s attempts to achieve nuclear weapons.”

“These are two fundamentally opposed forces — the forces of peace, moderation, and progress; and the forces of aggression, genocide and terror,” he continued. “We have to be on the side of the good and fight and struggle constantly against the bad.”

“We are really appreciative of your love for Israel, your commitment as an American patriot to strengthening America, to strengthen freedom, to fight for the common values that bind Americans and Israelis together,” Netanyahu concluded.

“And I think no one has done it better than you. So, thank you.”

Last week Friedman said he was “addicted and intoxicated” with what the Trump administration achieved for Israel in four years, and expressed his confidence the measures couldn’t be reversed by the Biden administration.

“I’m frankly somewhere between addicted and intoxicated with what I’ve been able to do, and how much joy it gives me,” he told The New York Times  in an article published last Monday. “We’ve changed the narrative dramatically.”

“There’s no going back on what we’ve been able to do,” said Friedman.

Freidman said the Trump administration “injected a tremendously needed dose of realism into the Palestinian psyche about what’s achievable and what’s not.”

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