David Friedman: Opening PA consulate goes against American law

Arutz Sheva speaks with former American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman about the Biden plan to reopen the PA consulate in Jerusalem.

Tags: David Friedman Yoni Kempinski , Nov 11 , 2021 4:50 PM Share

Arutz Sheva speaks with Former American Ambassador to Israel David Friedman [who] does not see how the U.S. will be able to reopen a consulate for Palestinian Arabs in Jerusalem.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with Arutz Sheva, Friedman says that reopening the consulate is “illegal under US law. The Jerusalem Embassy Act says Jerusalem should not be divided and this would be a division of Jerusalem.”

However, that does not mean the Biden administration might not try. “I don’t see how they can. I think if the could they might.”

Friedman adds: “Any doubt on that issue was laid to rest by [PA Prime Minister] Mohammad Shtayyeh who said on behalf of the PA, ‘We want a consulate because it will be the beginning of our embassy in Jerusalem.’”

“It clearly would divide Jerusalem and that’s against American law,” Friedman said. “It’s against Israeli law which is declared sovereignty over the entirety of Jerusalem. It’s a terrible idea. It can’t be done without Israel consent.”

He calls the reopening of the consulate a “huge mistake for America,” explaining that ““I really hope that they don’t get any further.”

The former Trump administration ambassador mentions that there are still all the former staff from the closed PA consulate working on Palestinian engagement as a PA affairs unit under the auspices of the US Embassy in Jerusalem.

“The PA sees an opportunity to plant the flag in Jerusalem,” Friedman says. “They are saying we’re not going to talk to you unless we get a consulate. But be clear: They want to divide Jerusalem and if a consulate is opened it will divide Jerusalem against both American and Israeli law.”

On the topic of the two-state solution, with the State Department saying that the two-state solution might not happen now but they are obligated to keep the two-state solution alive, why is there such an obsession with a discredited strategy?

Friedman says: “I think it’s just part of the State Department orthodoxy.”

He adds that in his experience most of the people there are not “out of the box thinkers.”

They stick to a “strategy” even if it’s “centuries old.”

“You recall obviously the position of former Secretary of State John Kerry that you could not make peace with Israel and the Gulf without making peace with the Palestinians,” Friedman mentions.

They have “these rigidities” and have a hard time moving away from those positions,” he adds.

Will this translate to tensions like during the Obama administration or will Biden be a friendly administration?

“I don’t know. They haven’t really articulated how to get to a two-state solution or what that would look like or what they mean,” he says. “There is a reason why… the old traditional Democratic two-state solution never worked. It’s because it’s not workable.”

He adds that the “old notion” of the 1967 lines or the 1948-49 armistice lines with minor land scapes “has proven itself to be a failed strategy.”

“If it looks more like the plan we put out in January of 2020, there might be some merit to it,” Friedman remarks.

On the topic of Iran, Secretary of State Antony Blinken recently said all options are on the table but on Wednesday a State Department spokesperson said that are mainly looking for a deal with Iran.

Friedman believes that “clearly that’s their preference.” However, “you don’t get a deal with Iran by signalling you are desperate for a deal.”

He explains that you can either make a good deal with 24/7 inspections anywhere in the country, an end to sponsoring terrorism, rogue activity, and their ballistic missile program.

Or short of that deal: “Maximum sanctions” is the only other method that has a “chance of weakening Iran and getting them to the table.”

“Right now, we’re nowhere. We’ve liberalized the sanctions and we have no deal,” Friedman says.

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