A two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would maintain Israel as a Jewish and democratic state, US Ambassador Tom Nides said on Wednesday at a meeting with the Foreign Press Association at Jerusalem’s King David Hotel.
Speaking both on record and off, Nides did not try to evade any questions, even on the most sensitive issues, explaining as much as he could and why he was unable to go further into the subject.
Not once did he use the expression “No comment.”
When commended for this afterward, he said that was an expression that he hates.
Nides’s candor may perhaps be attributed to the fact that he is not a career diplomat, and that he is married to a senior journalist. His wife, Virginia Moseley, is an executive vice president with CNN.
Nides said several times that he understands journalists have a job to do and that they have to ask questions.
When introducing himself at the start of the meeting, Nides said, “I’m not a career diplomat, so if I screw up, it’s not my fault. My diplomatic skills could use a little more polishing.”
His coming across as an affable, caring individual certainly overrides anything Nides he may lack by way of diplomatic skills.
In fact, when talking about what the US does for the Palestinians, Nides consistently reiterated that it was not political, but more about helping people.
In this context he mentioned US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to a Palestinian hospital in east Jerusalem, and emphasized that this was about people not politics.
Biden’s official visit to Israel, Nides noted, “showed his passion for Israel and the region. It was important to show he cares.”
To illustrate how Biden feels about Israel and the Jewish people, Nides recalled the president’s visit to Yad Vashem, where he met two Holocaust survivors whose hands he held, and with whom he spoke for 25 minutes.
“That’s who Biden is,” said Nides.
Speaking of his own attitude, Nides described himself as a cultural Jew, saying “that’s who I am, and that’s who my kids are.”
At the same time, he is deeply committed to maintaining Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
Nides and the two-state solution
Nides pointed out that Biden has been talking about a two-state solute for 40 years, and mentioned it when he met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
On the subject of Iran, Nides said that Biden would prefer to see a diplomatic solution to the problem but will not allow Iran to obtain nuclear weapons, nor will the US stand by and allow Iranian aggression.
Nides said he was concerned about limitations imposed on Palestinians and that wants to make things more accessible for Palestinians. In this context, the US Embassy has been deeply engaged in comprehensive discussion with the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.
As a “people person,” Nides spent many hours with the family of journalist Shireen Abu Akleh, the Palestinian-American journalist who was shot and killed during an altercation last May between IDF soldiers and Palestinian militants in Jenin.
Nides has also made shiva (condolence) calls to every Jewish family that has lost a loved one to terrorism during his time as ambassador.