Rollout of Trump administration’s peace deal ‘not imminent,’ ambassador says


JERUSALEM (JTA) — U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said that a rollout of the Trump administration’s peace plan for Israel and the Palestinians is “not imminent.”

“I would imagine that we will roll something out. I hesitate even to put a month on it because it has shifted as we continue to listen and talk to people,” Friedman told American Jewish Congress members in a telephone briefing.

Though the briefing on Wednesday reportedly was off the record, at least two news outlets reported on its contents.

Friedman also clarified that President Donald Trump has not demanded that Israel do anything in return for his administration’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem.

“I was there when the [Jerusalem] decision was made. I was there watching it and advocating for it in real time. There is not and there never was any demand made of Israel that they do anything in exchange for the embassy move,” Friedman said on the call, according to the Jewish Insider.

He also said: “The President feels that if the parties are lucky enough to be sitting in a room and making progress, he might say to the Israelis, ‘Look, can you do a little bit more? Look what we did for you. Is there something more that you could do?’ It’s not that he has something specific in mind, but just that under the circumstances that the United States has engaged in really significant good-faith efforts to strengthen Israel and strengthen its historical multi-thousand-year connection to Jerusalem, maybe the Israelis could make it clear by leaning in a little bit as well. That’s all it meant …”

Friedman also said on the call that Trump has the highest popularity rating in Israel of any country in the world.

“You know, if his popularity rating were this high in the United States, I don’t think the Democrats would even field a candidate [in 2020],” he said.

In reference to the controversial nation-state law, Friedman said that Israel has a right to call itself a Jewish state and pass a law stating this, Haaretz reported.

“There’s a basic law of human dignity and nothing in the nation-state law overwrites that,” he also said, according to Haaretz.