JERUSALEM (VINnews) — New York Times journalist and political commentator Thomas Friedman continues his negative coverage and approach towards the current Israeli government. But Friedman is worse than just a critic; In his malevolence towards the right-wing Israeli coalition, he is actively attempting to derail any possible diplomatic achievements by the Netanyahu-led government.Join our WhatsApp group
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In recent weeks, reports of a proposed peace treaty between Israel and Saudi Arabia have surfaced in many publications, fueling rumors that a deal may be imminent. Friedman cannot accept that the current government, which he terms “not normal”, could achieve such a coup and he therefore set out in a column Tuesday to warn both the US and Saudi Arabia from proceeding to such an agreement.
The deal under discussion, promoted by the Biden administration, seeks to normalize diplomatic relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel, foster a deeper security partnership between the United States and Saudi Arabia, and contribute to a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Friedman, however, believes that this proposed deal could have significant political repercussions within Israel. He argues that the terms of the deal as presented could rupture the current Israeli ruling coalition, which is led by far-right factions previously unaccustomed to wielding national security authority in the country.
In his column, Friedman says that Netanyahu is not presenting the full scope of the deal to the public. Instead, he asserts that Netanyahu aims to sway President Biden and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman with an incomplete version of the deal, which he could never present to his coalition partners in its current form.
Friedman appeals directly to these leaders, cautioning them against accepting Netanyahu’s proposition, asserting, “You cannot have normalization with an Israeli government that is not normal. It will never be a stable U.S. ally or Saudi partner. And right now, Israel’s government is not normal.”
Friedman supports his argument by referencing statements made by former Mossad chief Tamir Pardo, who has criticized the inclusion of what he calls “horrible racist parties” in Israel’s coalition government.
Furthermore, Friedman points to reports indicating that Israel’s Foreign Minister, Eli Cohen, instructed officials to meet with the leader of a Romanian far-right party in Bucharest to gain support for Israel’s settlement policies, implying that such actions contribute to the perception of Israel’s government as radical and unconventional.
Friedman says that Netanyahu may seek to persuade the United States into a deal that would weaken Israel’s Supreme Court’s ability to restrain his government’s actions, while simultaneously positioning himself as a domestic hero by securing a peace deal with Saudi Arabia without substantial concessions to the Palestinians. Such a deal should be rejected both by the US and the Saudis according to Friedman, who is worried that Netanyahu will achieve the peace and go on to fulfil his coalition’s aspiration of annexing Judea and Samaria.
Friedman effectively presents Netanyahu as a diplomatic charlatan who cannot be trusted to maintain the terms of international agreements. He concludes in a plea to the US and the Saudis: “Do not let Netanyahu make you his useful idiots.”
Instead, Friedman advises the US and Saudis to condition the deal on Israel “freezing all settlement building in the West Bank in the areas earmarked for a Palestinian state, if it can one day be negotiated; not legalizing any more illegal wildcat Israeli settlements; and, most important, insisting that Israel transfer territory from Area C in the “West Bank”, as defined by the Oslo accords, to Areas B and A under more Palestinian control.” He hopes that offering normalization with the Saudis and other Muslim countries will lead to the breakup of the current coalition and a new moderate government which will prefer the benefits of international cooperation to expansion of Israel’s borders in Judea and Samaria.