President Donald Trump’s administration was instrumental in resolving Israel’s crisis with Jordan, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said on Tuesday, in his first official meeting with Knesset members.
Friedman praised American mediation efforts following an incident in Amman in which an Israel Embassy security guard shot to death a terrorist who stabbed him. A civilian was also inadvertently killed in the crossfire.
“We had a situation in Jordan that could have gone bad,” Friedman said. “With the work of officials in the US together with the prime minister of Israel and king of Jordan, without a lot of noise and with careful deliberation, we were able to defuse a very difficult situation very quickly that under different circumstances wouldn’t have been resolved.”
Friedman addressed a meeting of the Knesset Caucus on US-Israel Relations, which is headed by MKs Nachman Shai (Zionist Union) and Avraham Neguise (Likud). He advised the MKs to strengthen the bond with the US by “speaking less and listening more.”
Some 40 MKs came in and out, some of them using the opportunity to lecture the ambassador on their pet issues or to critique the administrations of Trump and his predecessor, Barack Obama.
“I want to thank America for its involvement in resolving the recent crisis with Jordan, but I recommend that next time you get involved earlier, before the crisis simmers,” opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Zionist Union) suggested.
Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Michael Oren (Likud), who was ambassador to the US during the Obama administration, said, “In the previous administration, Israel was seen as part of the problem, but with this administration we are seen as part of the solution.”
MK Amir Peretz (Zionist Union) told Friedman he did not understand the Trump administration’s policies on solving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and asked for clarification.
“I am sorry that I can’t be specific but the Trump administration is committed to peace in the Middle East and will try to help,” Friedman said.
Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern asked Friedman to help fix what he called a rift between Israel and non-Orthodox US Jewry.
Yisrael Beytenu MK Robert Ilatov asked Friedman to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem. Zionist Union MK Zouheir Bahloul asked him to leave it in Tel Aviv.
Bayit Yehudi faction head Shuli Moalem-Refaeli took the unconventional step of walking up to Friedman while he was speaking to personally hand him an invitation to an event next week marking the 12th anniversary of the evacuation of Gush Katif in the Gaza Strip and of Homesh and Sa-Nur in Samaria.
Likud MK Anat Berko asked Friedman to crack down on organizations in the US that raise money in support of terrorism and which spread hate for Israel on US campuses. Her Likud colleague Oren Hazan pleaded with Friedman to make it easier for Israelis to get American visas.
Zionist Union MK Yael Cohen Paran attacked the Trump administration on climate change and warned that its actions on the matter would harm Israelis.
“I was struck by how the MKs spoke to each other so respectfully,” Friedman said at the meeting’s conclusion, earning laughs. “Your views are diverse but heartfelt.”