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US Friedman: Trump's statement not true

Aug. 30, 2018 4:32 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 31, 2018 3:14 P.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The United States Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said on Thursday that there was never any demands made of Israel in exchange for the United States' recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

David Friedman said in a conversation with the heads of the American Jewish Congress that "there is not and there never was any demands made of Israel in exchange for the United States Embassy move."

Friedman's comments referred to the United States President Donald Trump's statement from last week's speech, in which he said "Israel will have to pay a higher price," in return for his recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

During his speech, Trump explained why he recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital, saying that "if there's ever going to be peace with the Palestinians it was a good thing to have done because we took it off the table because every time there were peace talks, they never got past Jerusalem becoming their capital, so I said let's take it off the table."

Friedman said that Trump "feels that if the parties are lucky enough to be sitting in a room and making progress, he might say to the Israelis, 'Look, can you do a little bit more? Look what we did for you. Is there something more that you could do?' It's not that he has something specific in mind."

According to Ynet news outlet, Friedman mentioned the "Deal of the Century" and said that the date for its United Nations presentation has yet to be set, noting "I'm hesitant to say it would happen within a month because it has shifted several times as we continue to listen and talk with people. So it’s not imminent. There are some rumors that we might present something at the UN General Assembly. It’s not going to happen."

Friedman also stressed that "Israel has two and a half million or so Palestinians in the West Bank, and at some point, they’re going to have to make a call. You have to either let them establish an independent state or to absorb them."

He added, "we'd like to help them make the right decision, the right decision for them and the Palestinians, during the Trump Administration because it's a good environment right now for them to be making progress on this. If they can't, they can't, but we're not giving up."

According to Friedman, Trump currently has the highest popularity rating in Israel than in any other country in the world.

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