David Friedman
David FriedmanYonatan Sindel/Flash 90

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman on Thursday criticized the Obama administration’s approach to Israel during a keynote speech at Yeshiva University’s 88th Commencement at Madison Square Garden.

Friedman, who was quoted by the Jewish Insider, contrasted President Donald Trump’s policy on Israel with Obama’s treatment of Israel.

“Should Israel still negotiate with the Palestinians even though Israel did not steal their land? Of course it should, precisely because we are not suggesting, as our predecessor did — that Israel return to the bargaining table as a thief returning to the scene of a crime. Precisely for that reason, there is a basis for discussion,” said the Ambassador.

Friedman explained that “the overwhelming majority of Palestinians are not consumed by hatred nor are unwilling to live in peace. Many are well educated, many of them want what everyone wants — peace, security, good schools, and a better and more dignified way of life. We need to help them get there — not the perpetual handouts that create a culture of dependency and corruption.”

He said that he will be part of the US delegation to the upcoming economic workshop that will take place in Bahrain next month, in which the US administration is expected to unveil the economic part of its peace plan for Israel and the Palestinian Authority (PA).

Co-hosts US and Bahrain have billed it as "a pivotal opportunity... to share ideas, discuss strategies and galvanize support for potential economic investments and initiatives that could be made possible by a peace agreement."

The PA has already announced that it will boycott the economic conference, with its “information minister” Nabil Abu Rudeineh saying that the conference would be a meaningless meeting that was part of a meaningless plan.

PA officials have been boycotting the US administration since President Donald Trump broke with decades of consensus and recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in December of 2017.

The PA has also rejected the US peace plan before it has even been unveiled, claiming it is biased in Israel’s favor.

Meanwhile on Thursday, Trump's son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner met Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem as part of a Middle East tour before Washington unveils the peace plan.

Kushner, accompanied by Trump envoy Jason Greenblatt and Brian Hook, the US special representative for Iran, arrived in Jerusalem after earlier stops in Morocco and Jordan.