The Trump administration has “slayed the sacred cow of the calcified thinking that has held back progress on the Palestinian front,” US Ambassador David Friedman said Tuesday evening.
Friedman, speaking at a pre-Rosh Hashanah reception held in his Herzliya residence, said that up until now, the conventional wisdom has been that “to solve a problem, throw money at it.”
The US over the weekend cut its funding to UNRWA.
“Since 1994, the United States has thrown more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to Palestinians,” he said.
“Without minimizing the importance of medical treatment and quality education for children – and we don’t,
not even for a minute – we found that these expenditures were bringing the region no closer to peace or stability, not even by a millimeter. To spend hard-earned taxpayer dollars to fund stipends to terrorists and their families, to expend funds to perpetuate rather than mitigate refugee status, and to finance hate-filled textbooks – I ask you, how does that provide value to the United States or the region?”
The US, he said, is “not in the business of, as they say, throwing good money after bad.”
Friedman said this change of direction was just one of three developments over the last year that has put the US-Israeli relations on “solid ground – I would argue more solid than ever before.”
Another development, he said, was US President Donald Trump’s decision to exit the Iranian nuclear deal.
As a result of that, he said, “we are beginning to see encouraging signs that the Iranian enterprise – the world’s principal state sponsor of terrorism and an enemy that publicly vows to destroy Israel – is under extraordinary pressure.”
While saying that Iran has “most certainly” not yet been defeated, he said, “With every new day there’s a growing basis for optimism. The pressure on Iran will continue to mount, and I am confident that this enemy – the great challenge of our generation – will enter the dustbin of history among the other evildoers who have threatened the US and Israel in the past.”
And the third major development, he said, was Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem and move the US Embassy to the capital.
“Now, the United States did not make Jerusalem the capital of Israel. That was done by King David some 3,000 years ago under God’s direction,” he said. “But, I hope you will agree with me that it feels awfully good that for the first time in 2,000 years since churban bayit sheni – the destruction of the Second Temple – the most powerful and moral nation on earth has made this important recognition of the primacy of Jerusalem to the State of Israel and the Jewish People.
“So, baruch Hashem (thank God), it was a good year in many respects,” he said.