The Israeli government held a special cabinet meeting in the presence of outgoing United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman.
The session was devoted to honoring the American envoy for his relentless efforts to bolster bilateral relations, including many historical highlights.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed deep gratitude to Amb. Friedman for his help for three major accomplishments: US recognition of “our eternal capital Jerusalem,” including swift subsequent relocation of the US Embassy to the city and addition of Israel on the passports of American citizens born in Jerusalem; US recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights “so necessary both from the perspective of justice and that of our security;” and joint efforts with US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to declare that Israel’s settlement enterprise in Judea and Samaria do not contravene international law, while facilitating further scientific cooperation between Israel and the US beyond the 1967 “Green Line” border.
In addition, Netanyahu said that Friedman was “a central element in planning and formulating the Trump Plan, which is the first serious plan for achieving a realistic peace between Israel and the Palestinians,” stressing “the need for the Palestinians to recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people;” as well as his work to “expand the circle of peace and cancel the Palestinian veto that stemmed from denial of the State of Israel” in order to broker peace agreements between Israel and four Arab countries over the past four months.
Ambassador Friedman celebrated the opportunity to describe “overarching sense of pride” in achievements by the Trump Administration that anchored “incredibly strong” bonds with the Jewish State.
“We are leaving the relationship between Israel and the United States as strong as it has ever been. Rock solid. It is a mutually reinforcing relationship and it’s one that I believe is enduring. Based on our shared values of freedom, democracy and human dignity, our two nations were more than just two allies. I believe that we are in dispensable partners in the ongoing quest of the human species to create a more just and a more prosperous world,” he said.
The outgoing-American Ambassador went on say, “I believe, and I hope and pray, that this friendship survives and endures notwithstanding the political winds of the day, notwithstanding any particular views or personalities that arise in either government. This is something that is bigger than all of that. This relationship between our two countries is bigger than any person; is bigger than any politician; bigger than any policy; it is at the core of what makes us Americans and what makes you and your people Israelis.”
“These are two fundamentally opposed forces. The forces of peace, moderation and progress; and the forces of aggression, genocide and terror. And we have to be on the side of the good and fight and struggle constantly against the bad. It is not only for the sake of Israel and the United States; It is for the sake of all those who live in the Middle East, and beyond the Middle East, who want to see a better world, a safer world, and a world that is free of the terror, of the greatest terror of them all, nuclear terror,” said Netanyahu.
The full statement communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser of Netanyahu’s remarks at the farewell for US Ambassador David Friedman at the start of the Cabinet meeting is as follows:
“Today we are taking our leave from US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman. I must say that over the years I have met many ambassadors from many countries, including from the US, our great ally, but I can say that there was never a better ambassador than David Friedman in establishing the deep ties between Israel and the US, in correcting the diplomatic injustices that were created over the years in global diplomacy regarding Israel and in establishing the status of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, and many other things some of which have yet to be told.
David, I do not know, when you were appointed ambassador, if you knew the mark you would leave behind, but today we all know it. We know that you were very active in bringing about the American recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, itself a correction of an injustice that is difficult to understand.
You not only did this, but you acted quickly on the transfer of the American Embassy to Jerusalem and on the fact that in American passports it will be written ‘Jerusalem – Israel.’
What could be simpler, what could be more just, than correcting this injustice? This nonsense was corrected after decades due to vigorous action by President Trump and with your encouragement and at your initiative. This is the first thing.
The second thing, you also acted to encourage recognition of our sovereignty over the Golan Heights, which is also so natural and so necessary both from the perspective of justice and that of our security. You acted to correct this as well.
Third, you acted together with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to change the approach toward the communities in Judea and Samaria, to make it clear that our presence there did not contravene international law. Moreover, you also changed the definition of Judea and Samaria from occupied territories to disputed territories and this is exactly the precise definition until it was twisted by elements hostile to Israel and hostile to truth.
Moreover, you also acted, like we did at Ariel University, so that the scientific agreements between Israel and the US would also apply to the communities beyond the Green Line, and it is good that they do.
And there are two more very big things. You were a central element in planning and formulating the Trump Plan, which is the first serious plan for achieving a realistic peace between Israel and the Palestinians. What it has beyond security is – first of all – the need for the Palestinians to recognize the State of Israel as the national state of the Jewish people.
The absence of this recognition is the root of the conflict. This is what has been maintaining this conflict for over 100 years since before the establishment of the State of Israel: The denial of the Balfour Declaration, the denial of the partition plan, the denial of all those signs and steps that would recognize our right to a national state of our own in our historic homeland.
You also worked beyond this to expand the circle of peace and cancel the Palestinian veto that stemmed from denial of the State of Israel, in effect to wreck this veto and overcome it so that we would be able to reach peace with countries in the Arab world and the four peace agreements we made over the last four months as well as those that will come afterward. They are the result of our joint effort, mine, President Trump’s, the able team led by Jared Kushner which also included you of course, also Aryeh, who is here, Jason Greenblatt, Avi Berkowitz and others.
This was a great effort that is good for the US relations, good for Israel and good for peace. For all these David, thank you very much.”
“We know the depth of your feeling for the American-Israel alliance, for the State of Israel, for Jerusalem.
I think that few people can speak as you have and say we have made history. And we have. We have made history by recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. This is a decision by President Trump that you supported deeply. Made history by moving the American embassy here. Made history by recognizing the Golan. Made history by inaugurating the realistic peace plan. Made history by conducting and finishing four normalization agreements that herald an era of peace between Israel and the Arab world. This is the beginning.
We’ve also made history by resisting Iran’s attempts to achieve nuclear weapons. These are two fundamentally opposed forces – the forces of peace, moderation and progress and the forces of aggression, genocide and terror.
We have to be on the side of the good and fight and struggle constantly against the bad. It’s not only for the sake of Israel and the United States, it’s for the sake of all those who live in the Middle East, and beyond the Middle East, who want to see a better world, a safer world and a world that is free of the greatest terror of them all – nuclear terror.
This is something that we have joined forces with. You have been an active participant in. And I thank you for not only your personal friendship but for your enormous contribution for prosperity, security and peace.
I dn’t want to involve you in any more in the details of our deliberations, but I do want to say that you have been a magnificent friend, a great personal friend, you and Tammy to Sara and me.
We are really appreciative of your love for Israel, your commitment as an American patriot to strengthening America, to strengthen freedom, to fight for the common values that bind Americans and Israelis together. And I think no one has done it better than you. So thank you.”