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In rare visit beyond Green Line, US Ambassador Friedman urges dialogue

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman attends an event in Ariel promoting commercial ties between Israelis and Palestinians • He says America is willing to help, but “are the Palestinians?”

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaking at the official opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaking at the official opening ceremony of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem on May 14, 2018. Photo by Yonatan Sindel/Flash90.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman visited the city of Ariel, over the Green Line in Judea and Samaria, on Tuesday to attend an event promoting commercial ties between Israelis and Palestinians.

His visit was unprecedented as foreign envoys, including those from the United States, have not crossed the Green Line until now for purposes other than to pay condolence calls on bereaved relatives.

At the event, Friedman said that America was willing to help, but asked, “Are the Palestinians?”

The event was also attended by Palestinian businesspeople wishing to strengthen economic ties with their Israeli counterparts. But because of the dangers they face from their own people if they cooperate with Israelis, they preferred not to have their attendance made public.

Friedman was presented with plans by the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, which employs both Israelis and Palestinians, to promote cooperation and coexistence, as well as efforts to increase economic activity in the area. He met with dozens of Palestinian businessmen from across Judea and Samaria.

He told the audience that he was a big believer in interpersonal meetings between Israelis and Palestinians, and that such meetings would be the building block for any future peace deal. He also said open dialogue was the only way to cultivate greater understanding between the sides.

An official who attended the event told Israel Hayom that Friedman was encouraged by the commitment and motivation shown by both sides to foster business opportunities, coexistence and peace in the area.

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