U.S. Ambassador to Israel Refuses to Endorse Palestinian State, Supports 'Extended Autonomy'

Citing security concerns, Friedman says a Palestinian state at this stage 'is an existential threat to Israel, to Jordan'

David Friedman
JIM WATSON / AFP
 

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in a CNN interview that the United States is "not ready to talk about Palestinian state" as it would pose an existential security threat to Israel and Jordan.

Asked by journalist Christiane Amanpour if the United States is committed to a two-state solution, Friedman said “We believe in Palestinian autonomy, we believe in Palestinian self-governance. We believe that autonomy should be extended should be extended up until the point where it interferes with Israeli security.” 

Citing security concerns, Friedman said a Palestinian state at this stage “is an existential threat to Israel, to Jordan,” arguing it would become a hub for terrorist groups.

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“The last thing the world needs is a failed Palestinian state. Right now the Palestinian government is so weak,” he said. He added that the U.S. administration wants the Palestinians to have an economy and govern themselves. 

Friedman also rejected a one-state solution comprised of citizenship and equal righs to all residents of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza Strip. “I don’t think anyone responsible in Israel is pushing for a one-state solution... I don’t think there is a serious political movement in Israel for a one-state solution, and I don’t think any of the acts Israel has taken or we’ve taken over the past two years is driving us to that point,” he said. 

In June, Friedman and President Donald Trump’s Mideast envoy Jason Greenblatt broke open a tunnel running under a Palestinian village in East Jerusalem during a ceremony inaugurating a settler archaeological project. 

Also in June, Friedman told the New York Times that Israel has the right to annex parts of the West Bank. The comment follows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's April election promise to annex the territory, which Israel has maintained control over since it was conquered from Jordan in 1967.