No two-state solution after Oct. 7, David Friedman tells religious broadcasters

The former U.S. ambassador to Israel offered a “generational plan” for the region, which will take years, he said.

As the Biden administration repeatedly pushes for a “two-state solution,” which more than half of Israelis oppose, David Friedman, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, unveiled his plan for peace at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Nashville, Tenn.

Given how so many countries are turning on the Jewish state, it is untenable to do nothing about the Palestinian issue, but a two-state solution is unrealistic, Friedman said at the Feb. 22 event.

“Give up all the fantasies,” he said.

Friedman called the notion of a Palestinian state side-by-side with the Jewish one “the mother’s milk of the Democratic party, and to an extent, the Republicans.” But after Hamas’s Oct. 7 terror attack on Israel, “there can’t be a two-state solution,” he said. He noted that an overwhelming majority of Palestinians has told pollsters it approved of the attack.

Pro-Palestinian demonstrators rally in front of the Israeli consulate in San Francisco two days after Hamas massacred 1,400 men, women and children in southern Israel, Oct. 9, 2023. Credit: Phil Pasquini/Shutterstock.

Israelis were evenly divided on a two-state solution until a few months ago, Friedman said. “Not any more.” The prior day, the Knesset—across political divides—voted 99-11 against unilateral declaration of Palestinian statehood. The Labor Party boycotted the vote, and the 11 were Arab party members.

Friedman’s is a “generational plan,” which he said will take years and starts with an ultimatum to terrorists.

“Those of you who want to kill us, we’re going to kill you first. We’re not going to give in to terrorism,” he said. “Those who want to live with us, live with us.”

Jerusalem, Washington and Abraham Accord countries would lead the plan, with Israel retaining sovereignty in Judea and Samaria. As in the Marshall Plan for postwar Europe, Palestinian areas would be built up, funded by Gulf states. Palestinians would have “maximum civil autonomy,” with Israel retaining control of security, Friedman said.

As permanent residents, Palestinians would have Israeli documents, and though they could vote in local elections, they wouldn’t participate in national ones, lest they have the chance to alter Israel’s identity as a Jewish state.

The scene of a terrorist attack in Ra’anana, north of Tel Aviv, Jan. 15, 2024. Credit: Magen David Adom.
(source: JNS)

“There are 30 Muslim states. If you want to live in one, pick one. There’s only one Jewish state,” Friedman said at the event. Palestinians would have full civil rights “other than the right to destroy the world’s only Jewish state through demographic power.” Israeli Arabs would retain their right to vote in national elections.

Friedman anticipated charges that his plan would amount to apartheid.

“Is America an apartheid state?” he asked, noting that residents of American Samoa, Guam, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands can’t elect a U.S. president and have non-voting congressional representation.

“These arrangements are accepted because there are significant reciprocal benefits,” Friedman said. “Israel has to help the Palestinians get out from the depths.”

‘Biblical homeland’

Friedman unveiled the plan of his nonprofit, the Friedman Center for Peace Through Strength, in a session that introduced the Christian and Jewish grassroots group Keep God’s Land.

Per its site, the group, which was founded after Oct. 7, is “dedicated to strengthening and defending Israel’s right to its biblical homeland, with the ultimate goal of sovereignty over Judea and Samaria.”

The prior day, the National Religious Broadcasters announced a “Biblical Heartland Resolution,” urging members to refer to “Judea and Samaria” when reporting on the region, not the “the erroneous term ‘West Bank.’”

The board of the NRB passed a resolution on Feb. 20 pledging “continued support and friendship with Israeli in her time of need,” condemning terrorism and calling on Hamas to release all of the hostages. It also noted the important role Christian media play in educating about Jew-hatred.

An aerial view of Maale Adumim, a city in Judea and Samaria , Israel (source: Shutterstock)

The NRB’s large annual gathering of evangelical media outlets and personalities, held in Nashville this year from Feb. 20 to 23, had a strong emphasis on Israel.

Friedman participated in several events during the conference, and former U.S. president Donald Trump called his former ambassador to Israel to the stage to deliver remarks during Trump’s address on Feb. 22.

Had Trump been in office last year, Hamas would never have been able to invade Israel, because Trump cut off funds to Hamas and hamstrung Iran, Friedman told those assembled. The Biden administration reversed both of those, he said. “We’re feeling the pain now because of that.”

Friedman added that his plan for the Palestinians follows the biblical promise that Israel is the land of the Jewish people and said it would grant civil rights to all and “recognizes that every human being is created in the image of God.”

Middle East abhors a vacuum

“Let’s not let the perfect get in the way of the possible,” Friedman told attendees, anticipating Palestinian opposition to his plan.

He noted that there is no clear successor to aging, widely-unpopular Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas. In the aftermath of the war against Hamas, “Israel will have to increase security” to address the “vacuum,” Friedman said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken meets with Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas in Amman, Jordan, Oct. 13, 2023. Photo by Chuck Kennedy/U.S. State Department.
(source: JNS)

Stability can be improved with initiatives to build real lives for Palestinians, not by recycling refugee camps and a grievance mentality, according to Friedman. Palestinian leaders who can create opportunities for a better and freer Palestinian future are needed also.

The plan “addresses needs on the ground, including the need to improve the Palestinian quality of life,” Friedman said. It also builds on the success of the Abraham Accords, he said.

With Israel retaining sovereignty in Judea and Samaria, the plan would ensure that sites sacred to many people of faith remain open and protected.

“You’re going to live here forever,” he told Palestinians. “We can prosper together.”

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