Dry Bones - Thomas Friedman
Dry Bones - Thomas FriedmanY. Kirschen

The visit to Hebron this past week by New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and Kathleen Kingsbury, The New York Times' Opinion Editor could result in the NYT finally breaking its silence on the Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine proposal published in the Saudi Arabian government-controlled Al Arabiya News on 8 June 2022.

This new plan is certainly newsworthy: - The merger of Jordan, Gaza and part of Judea and Samaria (West Bank) into one territorial entity to be named The Hashemite Kingdom of Palestine - to be governed by the Hashemite dynasty that has ruled Jordan for the last 100 years and will have its capital located in Amman – not Jerusalem (Saudi Plan).

The NYT is not on its own.

The international media has almost universally ignored the Saudi Plan – which supersedes the 2002 Arab Peace Initiative – originally formulated by Thomas Friedman himself as his NYT op-ed dated 17 February 2002 reveals:

“Earlier this month, I wrote a column suggesting that the 22 members of the Arab League, at their summit in Beirut on March 27 and 28, make a simple, clear-cut proposal to Israel to break the Israeli-Palestinian impasse: In return for a total withdrawal by Israel to the June 4, 1967, lines, and the establishment of a Palestinian state, the 22 members of the Arab League would offer Israel full diplomatic relations, normalized trade and security guarantees. Full withdrawal, in accord with U.N. Resolution 242, for full peace between Israel and the entire Arab world. Why not?”

Friedman was surprised when he dared mention his idea to Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince and de facto ruler – Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz Al Saud - at a dinner a few days later

“After I laid out this idea, the crown prince looked at me with mock astonishment and said, ''Have you broken into my desk?''

''No,'' I said, wondering what he was talking about...

''... I have drafted a speech along those lines. My thinking was to deliver it before the Arab summit and try to mobilize the entire Arab world behind it. The speech is written, and it is in my desk.”

Friedman then proffered this advice to the Crown Prince:

“I suggested to the crown Prince that if he felt so strongly about this idea, even in draft form, why not put it on the record -- only then would anyone take it seriously. He said he would think about it. The next day his office called, reviewed the crown prince's quotations and said, Go ahead, put them on the record. So here they are.”

Thus was born the Friedman-inspired 2002 Arab Peace Initiative - which has gone nowhere in the last 20 years.

The 2022 Saudi Plan - authored by Ali Shihabi - a close confidant of Saudi Arabia’s current Crown Prince and de facto ruler – Mohammed Bin Salman (MBS) – shreds Friedman’s 2002 idea – offering in its place a drastically different solution to end the 100 years-old Jewish-Arab conflict - if negotiations to implement it are successfully completed.

Yet Friedman has not written one word about Shihabi’s proposal in the six months since its publication – despite my personal request to him to do so. Sour grapes perhaps?

However why has the NYT not informed its readers of this Saudi Plan - that also offers Israel sole sovereignty in Jerusalem and in part of Judea and Samaria ('West Bank')? If that’s not front page news – what is?

Could a well-resourced NYT investigative journalist with Saudi contacts find out whether a plan similar to Shihabi’s is in MBS’s desk or ask MBS directly whether he endorses Shihabi’s plan?

Thomas Friedman and Kathleen Kingsbury – some answers and an op-ed please.

David Singeris an Australian lawyer who is active in Zionist community organizations in that country. He founded the "Jordan is Palestine" Committee in 1979

Author’s note: The cartoon — commissioned exclusively for this article — is by Yaakov Kirschen aka “Dry Bones”- one of Israel’s foremost political and social commentators — whose cartoons have graced the columns of Israeli and international media publications for decades.