During a Tuesday conversation with CNN’s Anderson Cooper, New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman said that President Donald Trump made a terrible deal, essentially giving away the farm, on any chance of Middle East peace.
Friedman explained that the Hamas violence and deaths seen in reaction to the embassy moving to Jerusalem were the radical Palestinian response, but he wondered what Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are doing to work with moderate Palestinians to achieve peace.
“What have the Israelis been doing with the good Palestinian leadership, [Palestinian President] Mahmoud Abbas,” he continued. “Where is the Israeli imaginative, peaceful creation? Neither Hamas or Bibi have any peaceful end on the table right now. It is a tragedy, two bald men fighting over a comb.”
Trump had promised peace in the Middle East, and assigned son-in-law Jared Kushner to achieve it. Yet, Friedman noted they’ve already bungled their shot at any kind of deal. He argued that Trump had a chance to make a deal for the embassy by demanding Israel give a little too. Friedman suggested the deal should be to “freeze all Israeli settlements in densely-populated areas in the West Bank, to preserve that zone for the two-state solution” in exchange for the new capital and embassy.
Cooper noted that example “would have been the Art of the Deal,” citing Trump’s famous book.
“That would have been the Art of the Deal. Trump did the Art of the Giveaway,” Friedman retorted.
“Had Trump done that he could have come to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian leader, and said, ‘I know you don’t like this embassy move but I got you something [Barack] Obama never got you, I got a freeze on Israeli settlements.’ Then he could have gone to the world and said, ‘Look what I have done! Advanced the process! I have done something hard and I want you guys to do something hard, accept Israeli tourists, give interviews to Israeli journalists.’ He could have a leverage. Instead he gave away the most valuable diplomatic real estate in the Middle East treasure box and he gave it away for free. Believe me, in Jerusalem they are laughing at him. In the Arab world they’re laughing at him. They can’t believe what a sucker he was to take that bait and give it away for free when he could use it, he could have used it for leverage to truly advance the peace process.”
Watch the full take below: