Outgoing US Ambassador David Friedman honored at Knesset

"I think we succeeded in strengthening the US Israel relationship."

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman honored at special committee meeting (photo credit: Courtesy)
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman honored at special committee meeting
(photo credit: Courtesy)
 US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman was honored by a special meeting of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Monday as he prepares to finish his term next week.
“I am happy to host Ambassador David Friedman for a special meeting,” said Zvi Hauser, chairman of the committee. “This meeting is not a routine event here in the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee. It seems to me that it’s even a unique and rare event, but the ambassador is also unique and rare. In Jerusalem, not only will we hear but also say thank you, and we will acknowledge the good of an extraordinary contribution to strengthening the ties between the United States and the State of Israel.”
Hauser added that Friedman was given the office of “fulfilling the dreams of all of us, changing historical distortions, and actually realizing the traditional position of the United States and its historical vision that the capital of the Jewish people in the Land of Israel is Jerusalem.”
The committee chairman referred to the ambassador as a partner in the recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights and the Abraham Accords, “which establish the paradigm shift that took place in the Middle East a decade after the so-called ‘Arab Spring’ – the real recognition that Israel is not the problem of the Middle East, rather Israel is a key component in solving the region’s problems.”
“The Abraham Accords are the result of a stubborn American policy of recognizing the right of the Jewish people to self-determination and renewing their sovereignty in peace and security, and for all these and many other things we thank you,” said Hauser. “You will surely not forget the fascinating years you spent here in Israel. You will certainly not forget the fascinating years you spent here in Israel, just as all Israeli citizens will never forget it.”
Friedman thanked Hauser and Knesset Speaker Levin and all the members of Knesset for their work with him and their American counterparts.
“I’m leaving my post in nine days, and it’s flown by. I can’t believe it’s been almost four years since I’ve had this post,” said Friedman. “It’s been more than four years since I was nominated and as they say in Tehilim (Psalms), elef shanim ke’ayin, a thousand years go by like a flash. I would say here, four years went by like a flash, it just went by so quickly. And I think that’s a testament to how exciting, riveting and also enjoyable the job was. It went very fast. You’re enjoying what you’re doing, and you’re busy, and time flies, and it sure did.”
Nearing the end of his post, Friedman gave an interview last week to The New York Times and explained how he managed to become one of the most influential American ambassadors to the Middle East.
Friedman attributed his success and unwavering determination to two notions: the “deep knowledge” he said he had on the issues and the “very strong views” he came with from home. But more than anything, Friedman said, his ability to create a difference was because of his relation to US President Donald Trump. “I’m close to the boss,” he shared.
Speaking to Trump weekly and meeting monthly gave Friedman unparalleled power as an ambassador, he said, which he directed toward trying to lower the expectations of Palestinians and reach some kind of agreement between the PA and Israel.
Among the notable actions carried out by the Trump administration and by Friedman as its emissary to Israel, were the official recognition of Jerusalem as the capital city of the State of Israel and moving the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv – shifting decades of unhinged American policy on the matter. Friedman also changed the prevailing American policy towards West Bank Jewish settlements, legitimizing them by declaring them a part of Israel. To that end, he erased the use of the word “occupied” in the context of West Bank settlements in US State Department documents.
Accordingly, Friedman reflected perhaps the least favorable US administration for the Palestinian Authority ever. Some of the actions carried out by the US during Friedman’s term were halting all American financial aid to the PA, banishing Palestinian emissaries from Washington and regularly criticizing Palestinian leaders.
Friedman expressed satisfaction in everything he managed to accomplish in a relatively short time, noting that his legacy is here to stay.
“There’s no going back on what we’ve been able to do,” he told The Times. “I’m frankly somewhere between addicted and intoxicated with what I’ve been able to do, and how much joy it gives me ... “We’ve changed the narrative dramatically.”
Obviously, Friedman faced quite a bit of criticism over the years. Head of the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington until it was shut down, Husam Zomlot told the Times that Friedman was “the American mob in our Capitol,” and argued that in reality “the Biden administration will have to wipe the floor of US-Palestinian relations and the peace process completely clean.”