US Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides spoke Thursday morning on Galei Zahal about Israeli President Isaac Herzog's visit to Washington, D.C.
Speaking from Washington, D.C., Nides said, "I had a great meeting with President Herzog and President Biden."
According to Nides, US President Joe Biden "loves President Herzog, and President Herzog loves Joe Biden, and it was about the mutual respect the United States has for the State of Israel. We like to say it's an unbreakable bond, it is an unbreakable bond, and it's exemplified by President Herzog's rival here and the warm reception he had by President Biden and Secretary Blinken."
When asked about former US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman and his opposition to the maritime deal with Lebanon, Nides said that he "has an enormous amount of respect" for Friedman, and Friedman "has every right to have his opinions," but that Friedman "is not right."
On the agreement itself, Nides said, "I think it's better than good, I think it helps keep Israel stronger and it provides the ability for Israel to tap into some important gas in Karish. It keeps the security border around, which was very important. I think this was, in our view, an enormously important success and I congratulate not only the Prime Minister but Defense Minister [Benny] Gantz and the Lebanese and everyone who was involved in this. It's something that we spent a lot of time working on, and we're thrilled to have it happen."
Nides also expressed concern over the recent violence, calling out both Arab terror and the Jews living in Judea and Samaria in the same breath but claiming not to compare the two.
"Let me be clear: Israel has the right to defend itself against any terrorist act. We 100% believe that to be the case. We also believe that the level of settler violence needs to end, and we've made that very clear. But make no mistake, we stand by Israel in its security and its right to defend itself against terror, and we support that. That does not suggest that we don't also have views vis-a-vis...settler violence and violence generally."
When asked if "settler violence" and Arab terror were equivalent, Nides emphasized, "No. No. Let's be clear: They're two separate issues, I don't equate one at all with the other."
Regarding the negotiations on the Iran nuclear deal, Nides emphasized that the ball is now in Iran's court, and that Iran did not accept any of the US' comments. As such, signing a nuclear deal is not currently on the table.
"Unless the Iranians reach the agreements that we laid out for them, we obviously are not moving forward on the JCPOA. They haven't done that yet, so my view of this is, is that we're at a stalemate and ultimately the ball is in the Iranians' court," he said.
"As we've said before I'm not holding my breath for us coming back to the negotiating table, but at this point we're at where we are, which is we laid out very clear understandings of what we believe the Iranians need to deliver, they are not delivering it and consequently we're not moving."