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Jerusalem recognition ‘led to explosion of peace,’ departing US envoy tells MKs

Knesset bids farewell to David Friedman; thanks him for ‘tremendous contributions’ after he oversaw policy shifts on Jerusalem, Golan, settlements, Israel-Gulf relations

In this January 11, 2021 photo, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (L), Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (C), and MK Zvi Hauser (R) attend a farewell meeting for the outgoing envoy in the Knesset. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset Spokesperson)
In this January 11, 2021 photo, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (L), Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (C), and MK Zvi Hauser (R) attend a farewell meeting for the outgoing envoy in the Knesset. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset Spokesperson)

The Knesset Subcommittee for Policy and Strategy held a celebratory meeting Monday for the departing United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, amid the upcoming administration change in the US.

“Everyone feared that the recognition of Jerusalem would lead to an explosion, but it turned out to be an explosion of peace and not of violence,” Friedman said during the event.

“This meeting is not routine; it is a unique and rare event, much like the ambassador,” head of the subcommittee MK Zvi Hauser said in his opening remarks.

Hauser thanked the ambassador for his years of service in Israel, specifically for his “extraordinary contribution in the tightening and strengthening of ties between the United States and the State of Israel.”

In this January 11, 2021 photo, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman (L), MK Zvi Hauser (C) and Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin (R), attend a farewell meeting for the outgoing envoy in the Knesset. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset Spokesperson)

Knesset Speaker Yariv Levin said that “it is right and proper that the Knesset formally appreciate and recognize Ambassador Friedman’s tremendous contributions,” including the increased security coordination, recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, relocation of the embassy to Jerusalem, and recognition of Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights.

Friedman thanked Hauser and Levin for their words, adding that “the past three and a half years flew by like a flash, a testament to how exciting, riveting and enjoyable the job was,” adding that the relationship between the leaders, military and intelligence officials of both countries was “extraordinary.”

In this January 11, 2021 photo, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends his farewell meeting in the Knesset. (Dani Shem Tov/Knesset Spokesperson)

Under Trump’s leadership, the US administration recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and moved its embassy there from Tel Aviv, and recognized Israel’s sovereignty over the Golan Heights. It withdrew millions in aid to the Palestinians and shuttered the PLO office in Washington. The Trump peace plan unveiled last January — forcefully opposed by the Palestinians — did not call for the evacuation of Israeli settlements and would have allowed Israel to annex large swaths of the West Bank.

But Israel’s plans to unilaterally annex parts of the area were put on ice when the US clinched a normalization deal between Jerusalem and the United Arab Emirates in August. That agreement was followed in succession by deals establishing diplomatic ties between Israel and Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco, all of which were brokered by the Trump administration. The UAE, Sudan and Morocco received significant rewards from the US for opening ties with Israel.

In addition, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo became the first top American diplomat to visit a Jewish settlement in the West Bank last year. In November 2018, his State Department said the US would no longer see settlements as contrary to international law. During his last visit to Israel, Pompeo also announced that Washington would designate as “anti-Semitic” the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions campaign, which seeks to isolate Israel over its treatment of the Palestinians.

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