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Netanyahu bids farewell to outgoing US Ambassador David Friedman, lauds his accomplishments

Friedman presided over historic transfer of American embassy to Jerusalem among other significant shifts in U.S. policy

Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and United States Ambassador to Israel David Friedman at an event marking the first night of the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem Old City, on Dec. 10, 2020. (Photo: David Azagury/U.S. Embassy Jerusalem)

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, who was among the first officials appointed by President Donald Trump when he first came into office four years ago, was lauded by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting.

"Today we are taking our leave from U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman,” Netanyahu said. “I must say that over the years I have met many ambassadors from many countries, including from the U.S., 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 U.S., 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.”

Netanyahu noted that Friedman leaves a permanent impression on Israel thanks to his service.

"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," he said. "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.'"

Netanyahu also thanked Friedman for some of the other notable changes in the U.S.-Israel relationship over the past four years, including recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, the changes in Washington’s stance towards Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria and a new approach to negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians.

Finally, he praised Friedman for his role in facilitating the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco.

"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," he said.

Netanyahu also mentioned the tough stance that America took on Iran under Trump, which was a far cry from that of President Barak Obama's administration.

“We’ve also made history by resisting Iran’s attempts to achieve nuclear weapons,” Netanyau said. “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.”

U.S. President-elect Joe Biden has not announced who the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel, but names floated as possible candidates include Dan Shapiro, who served in the role under Obama, as well as Dennis Ross, who has served in the administrations of several U.S. presidents from both parties.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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