US Ambassador Friedman: Palestinian leaders ‘need to join the 21st century’

September 17, 2020 US Ambassador Friedman: Palestinian leaders ‘need to join the 21st century’

US ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during a visit to Efrat on February 20, 2020. (Flash90/Gershon Elinson)

“We have reached the beginning of the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict,” Friedman said.

By Lauren Marcus, World Israel News

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman spoke out about the how the Abraham Accords will affect diplomacy in the Middle East, the future of Judea and Samaria, and the Palestinian leadership in an interview with Israel Hayom on Thursday.

Friedman, who was heavily involved in negotiating the normalization agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, and later between Israel and Bahrain, shared his thoughts on the likelihood of other Arab countries normalizing relations with Israel.

Earlier this week, President Trump said he believed there were an additional seven to nine Arab countries that would be interested in joining the Abraham Accords, up from his prediction of five-to-six on Tuesday. Friedman agreed with Trump’s assessment that the agreement would produce a ripple effect.

“We have reached the beginning of the end of the Israeli-Arab conflict,” Friedman told Israel Hayom. “We broke the ice and made peace with two important countries in the region.”

“And as the president said, and I know this is true, there will be more breakthroughs. When the dust settles, within a few months or a year, we will reach the end of the Arab-Israeli conflict.”

Friedman slammed the Palestinian leadership, calling them ineffective and backwards.

“They need to join the 21st century,” he said. “They are on the wrong side of history right now.”.

“The people are not being served by their leaders,” he said. “I believe the people living in Judea and Samaria want a better life. This is possible for the Palestinian people.”

“But their leadership clings to old-fashioned strategies, which I do not think are relevant anymore.”

Friedman dismissed settlement leader claims that Netanyahu traded sovereignty over Judea and Samaria for the normalization agreements.

“I believe [sovereignty] will happen,” he said. “We had some obstacles because of the pandemic as well as some diplomatic difficulties.”

“At the moment, Israeli flags are flying above Gush Etzion, Beit El, in Shiloh and Hebron, and according to our vision for peace, they will continue to fly there.”

“Peace is a once-in-a-generation opportunity,” he said to Israel Hayom. “The opportunity arose and we thought we needed to take it, and the opportunity [Bahrain normalization] that came after that.”

Ending the interview on the eve of Rosh Hashana (New Year) holiday, Friedman wished “all of Am Israel, all of the Jewish people, and all of the citizens of the world… good health, and that we will all have a good and sweet New Year.”

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