Watch: Special Sukkot interview with US Ambassador to Israel

US Amb. Friedman talks about Trump's peace plan, his feelings towards Israel, and joining in the traditional priestly blessing at the Kotel.

Arutz Sheva Staff, | updated: 22:10

Ambassador Friedman in his sukkah
Ambassador Friedman in his sukkah
Mati Stern

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman discussed with Arutz Sheva his experiences living in Israel, and explained US President Donald Trump's remarks from Wednesday, which seemingly supported a two-state solution.

According to Friedman, Trump is serious about presenting a peace plan to resolve the Israeli-Arab conflict, and will respect any agreement that the two sides hammer out.

"He wants an agreement," said Friedman. "I think he is much less concerned about the structure than he is about the agreement. He spoke about it yesterday, and what he said is very consistent to what he has been saying all along, meaning that whatever the parties agree to he will support."

The Ambassador clarified, however, that "the reality is, the President has seen very little support on either side for a one-state solution, so I think his observations are correct."

"Ultimately, this is about an agreement, it's not about the form of the agreement, it's about what the agreement will be."

During his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu earlier on Wednesday, Trump seemed to indicate that he thought a "two-state solution" was the best way to solve the Israeli-Palestinian Arab conflict.

According to Friedman, "the President has been and will be the greatest friend Israel will ever have in the White House."

"I think people left, right, and center also want an end to the conflict," said Friedman. "I haven't heard anyone say that they are disappointed with the President's observations, but if they are, I suggest that they stay tuned and pay attention, because think the President very much, in contrast to his predecessors, recognizes very clearly that where Palestinian autonomy and Israeli security intersect, we err on the side of Israeli security. I think people need to pay attention and listen."

During his joint press conference with Netanyahu on Wednesday, Trump had estimated his peace plan could be presented "over the next two to three to four months."

When asked about the details of the plan, Friedman said that in his own personal opinion, there would be no need to force thousands of Jews out of their homes in Judea and Samaria.

"I think we're still months away as the President has indicated, but I'll tell you, I've been very clear on this personally, that I don't think it's reasonable to expect any agreement to depend upon forcing people to leave their homes. That applies to Arabs as well as Jews. I think the idea of forced population transfer is not a pathway to peace," Friedman said.

Friedman also said that Arab terrorism needs to end, calling it "the challenge of our time" and the absolute bar for coexistence. "When I think of Ari [Fuld] and his family....my wife and I spent over an hour with them yesterday in their sukkah...I'm just overcome from the sadness of the moment."

"Terror has to be eradicated. There is no place for it here or anyplace in the world."

Friedman, 60, is a lawyer specializing in bankruptcy law who has represented President Trump for over two decades. Shortly after Trump's unexpected victory in the 2016 presidential elections, Friedman was appointed as the Ambassador to Israel. Friedman says that he is continually impressed by Israel and noted the rapid growth the Jewish State has experienced.

"It's an amazing country," said Friedman. "I see from my early days until now, it has really grown into a first-world country," he added, noting that "the happiness quotient is one of the highest in the world and I think people enjoy living here."

"The love I see from Israelis for the United States is heartwarming. I see all the other ambassadors lament the fact that they don't get such love and affection that I do, but it's not because of me but because of the county I represent."

Earlier this week, Friedman joined tens of thousands of Jews at the Western Wall's traditional priestly blessing. Friedman, who is a member of the priestly caste, reported that attending the famous event was "one of the greatest perks of being the Ambassador to Israel."

"It's incredibly moving," said Friedman. "It's the third time I've [done] it: I was there Sukkot, I was there Pesach (Passover - ed.), and this is the third time."

"It's one of the great perks, maybe one of the greatest perks of being the Ambassador to Israel that I get to participate," continued Friedman, noting that his position made participating in the massive event "very easy - I didn't have to fight the crowds as much as anyone else."

"There is no better place to celebrate Sukkot than in Israel. I used to come all the time As ambassador and it's a wonderful place to be, this time of year especially."

Friedman has longstanding ties to Israel. He owns an apartment in Jerusalem and his daughter Talia moved to the Jewish State in 2017. Friedman says, however, that his longstanding connection to Israel and his observant Jewish lifestyle do not affect his ability to do his job representing the United States.

"There is no conflict. The interests of the United States and Israel on matters that I care about are deeply aligned, aligned completely," Friedman contended.

"My job is to represent the United States, and that is who I represent. I am the president's representative to Israel, and that's always going to be my job as long as I am the ambassador."




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