Ambassador Friedman: Palestinians must stop relying on victimhood narrative

US Ambassador to Israel says US, EU, and Arab League are no longer indulging the Palestinian Authority, time has come to move forward.

Arutz Sheva Staff ,

Ambassador Friedman with his interviewer Prof. Uzi Rabbi
Ambassador Friedman with his interviewer Prof. Uzi Rabbi
US Embassy, Jerusalem

US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman spoke about the strengthening of the US-Israel relationship over the past four years and addressed the expected changes from Arab countries following the peace agreements with the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain.

In an interview with the Friends of Tel Aviv University Associations, Ambassador Friedman asked where the recent peace agreements between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain will lead.

"Where is this going? I really think the sky's the limit. I think that over time, and I can't be pinned down to a year or a month, but I think in our lifetime, G-d willing, we will see an end to the Arab-Israeli conflict as we've traditionally thought of it," Friedman said.

''The notion of a 22-member Arab League that is united in their opposition to Israel, their refusal to recognize Israel, I think it will come to an will end. It does not mean that all 22 Arab League nations will get on board soon. It will be incremental, but I have no doubt that it will grow - five, ten countries, maybe more countries, over time.

Friedman spoke of the disconnect between the Trump administration and the Palestinian Authority, saying that the United States has given more money per capita to the Palestinian Authority than anyone else.

"The notion that the Palestinians have now been neglected by the Arab world - I would say just the opposite. I would say the Palestinians have been indulged by the Arab world, by the European Union, by others. People have made excuses for their malign activities for generations. They've received enormous amounts of money -mostly, by the way, from the United States. The United States has given more money per capita to the Palestinian Authority than anyone else, I think combined, since Oslo.

"We spent an enormous amount of money trying to build up the Palestinian society. Nobody's got much to show for it. The leadership has put put a lot of money in their pockets. Abu Mazen (Mahmoud Abbas) is wealthy, his friends are wealthy," he observed.

"It's demonstrable that the leadership favors their own personal interests against the will of the Palestinian people. To a certain extent, the world has enabled that failure. We used to do it in America. Not anymore, President Trump has stopped. But we used to enable the Palestinians. The Europeans have enabled the Palestinians. Just this week, I think they've gotten it right, where they're saying: 'look. We're not gonna give you any money anymore if you refuse to take the tax revenue from Israel that you're entitled to. So even the European Union is starting to take a realistic view. And in the Gulf, the Arab League has indulged the Palestinians for a generation.

"I think the expectation among all these players was that the Palestinians would eventually condemn terrorism, move closer towards a realistic peace with Israel, and develop practical solutions," he said. "The Palestinian leadership repeatedly rejected economic opportunity in the West Bank because they felt that that would hurt their narrative of victimization. They would prefer that their people suffer and remain angry than get the benefits of economic aid. Real economic aid. I'm not talking about handouts. I'm talking about investment, real investment in infrastructure in the West Bank. It's been on the table for three years. They don't want it, because to them it's a normalization of contacts. They don't want to normalize until they get everything they want."

"This is a terrific policy if you're the leader and you're wealthy and you have everything you want. It's a terrible policy for the 2.5 million people living in Judea and Samaria who could live better," Friedman said. "The reality is, there is no leadership. You couldn't shake hands with anybody today, with any sense of assurance that tomorrow we'd move forward on an agreement, because nobody can deliver the Palestinian people because they have thrived on conflict."

"The Palestinians need to stop relying upon the narrative of victimization. It served them well for a couple of generations. I think that time is coming to an end," Ambassador Friedman declared.