U.S. Ambassador Says Israel Has Right to Annex Parts of West Bank

As for whether the plan envisions a Palestinian state, he said, “What’s a state?”

Israel retaining security control in the West Bank should not be an impediment, he argued: Just as American troops are stationed in Germany, Japan and Korea, “places where we were at war with that nation before we left our troops there,” he said, “having boots on ground is not antithetical to peace.”

He said he did not know when the plan would be released, but would welcome the chance to promote and defend it.

“Maybe they won’t take it, maybe it doesn’t meet their minimums,” he said. “We’re relying upon the fact that the right plan, for the right time, will get the right reaction over time.”

But he did not chart a clear path to a deal given the likely resistance of Mr. Abbas. “It has to capture the imagination of the Palestinian people,” Mr. Friedman said. “Then things have to just take their course.”

Asked what that meant, he reached for a comparison to corporate restructuring, his legal specialty.

“We would put out a plan, and everybody would scream and yell and say this is no good, that’s no good,” he said. “And if you took everybody’s views at face value you’d just put it back in the drawer and curl up into a ball. But that’s not the way the world works.”

People will “posture” and “complain,” then analyze and “poll their people,” determine their options, and try to get a “more palatable” offer, he said.

“I’ve solved some pretty insoluble problems over my career,” he said, “and that’s how they get solved.”

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