US ambassador tells Jewish, Evangelical leaders Palestinian state a far-off prospect
According to sources in the closed-doors gathering held by Friedman shortly after US President Donald Trump announced his so-called “Deal of the Century” alongside Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Washington on Tuesday, the US envoy briefed a group of over 20 Jewish and Evangelical leaders.
Friedman, the former chairman and president of The Trump Organisation, made clear that while Trump’s plan supposedly puts forward a Palestinian mini-state, the administration does not expect this to come about in the near future.
“Ambassador Friedman said it will still take a considerable amount of time for the Palestinians to build the institutions they need to have a state that’s fully functioning and that’s part of why they have this four-year timeline in the plan,” a US Jewish official who was in the meeting told the Times of Israel.
Comment: Friedman’s West Bank annexation remarks just gutted 50 years of diplomacy
Trump said his deal, which has been unanimously rejected by the Palestinians, proposes a “realistic two-state solution”, whereby Palestinians are granted sovereignty over parts of the West Bank, while Israel would annex the Jordan Valley and the network of interconnected settlements.
It also implements a four-year freeze on settlement building in areas allocated for the future Palestinian state, hinging on conditions requested by Netanyahu, including Palestinian demilitarisation, official recognition of Israel as a Jewish state, and Israel having overall security control over the West Bank.
The proposal of statehood has thus been vilified by observers, who point out that the isolated cantons of Palestinian territory would still have their boundaries controlled by Israeli checkpoints as well as a host of other ways Israel could override Palestinian sovereignty.
Friedman was personally appointed as US ambassador to Israel by Trump, after he worked as a chief advisor during his election campaign.
The appointment caused outrage among liberal American Jews and others based due to his anti-peace and pro-settlement views and activism.
The most controversial of his positions is his time as director of the American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a fund which has raised tens of millions of dollars for the Beit El settlement, among the most radical settlements in the West Bank.