US working to change ‘stupid’ Israeli policies; ambassador ‘infuriated’ with Jewish settlement growth

“We can’t do stupid things that impede us for a two-state solution,” Ambassador Tom Nides told Americans for Peace Now.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

In a Tuesday webinar with left-wing Americans for Peace Now, U.S. Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides firmly espoused the “two-state solution” and said he is working to change Jerusalem’s policies that stand in its way.

“If we talk about anything but a two-state solution, it’s not good for the Palestinians, it’s certainly not good for Israel, it’s not good for the Jews, it’s not good for anyone,” Nides told his virtual audience.

There are “four or five” issues that he said he constantly brings up in order for his plan to come to fruition. Interestingly, the very first example he gave was higher internet speed.

“Who the he** has 3G [today]?” he asked. He said he’s been “pounding the table” at the Communications Ministry so that the Palestinians could all have “4G or even 5G” on their phones.

Nides has also urged the biggest corporations working in Israel today, such as Google and Microsoft, to “open offices in the West Bank” in order to provide Palestinians with better employment possibilities.

These kinds of ideas “don’t compromise Israel’s security,” he said, while if the Palestinians don’t see avenues to prosperity, “we’re going to wake up with a bigger catastrophe than we currently have.”

Giving hundreds of millions of dollars to UNRWA falls under the same category, he said. Jerusalem would like to see the aid organization completely reformed if not dismantled, as it has proven to educate Palestinian children to hate Israel rather than embrace peace. Some of its facilities have been used by Hamas to hide rocket launchers and other weapons.

Nides said he’s been spending quite a bit of time on trying to stop “stupid” activity in other areas. For example, settlement growth “infuriates” him because he feels it is a huge obstacle to his vision.

“We can’t do stupid things that impede us for a two-state solution,” he said. “We can’t have the Israelis doing settlement growth in east Jerusalem or the West Bank.”

While he said he has to “pick his battles” because he “can’t stop all building” in Judea and Samaria, he took credit for stopping construction in the E1 region, which would connect the city of Maaleh Adumim to Jerusalem.

“I went full-bore on E1,” Nides said.

Nides also criticized some Palestinian actions as well, including the financial support for terrorists in Israeli jails and the families of those killed while attacking Israelis, known as pay-for-slay.

“The Palestinians aren’t perfect either, I just want to be clear here,” he said. “These martyr payments…have caused an enormous amount of problems…. The Palestinians have to figure out how to stop it.”

Other issues the ambassador touched upon included the reopening of the American consulate in Jerusalem, which served for years as a conduit to the Palestinians that was independent of the American embassy before being closed by the Trump administration.

Noting that the Israelis were as firmly against the idea as the Palestinians were for it, Nides said both parties “have made way too big a deal over this.” But he reiterated Biden’s promise to reopen it.