National security adviser appeals to Israel to make peace

FILE PHOTO - Newly named National Security Adviser Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster listens as U.S. President Donald Trump makes the announcement at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida U.S. February 20, 2017.

Kevin Lamarque

On the eve of President Trump's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster appealed to Israelis to find common cause with their Arab neighbors. 

In remarks prepared for an Israel Day celebration hosted by the Israeli Embassy, McMaster spoke of the Trump administration extending "our hand" to the Palestinian people and leaders. He urged Israelis to "take advantage of this moment" and find common cause with their Arab neighbors - including Palestinians - against the shared threat of Iran. McMaster also acknowledged President Trump has an unusual approach to brokering peace, having assigned son- in-law Jared Kushner and Jason Greenblatt, a former Trump lawyer to the task.

McMaster also praised Greenblatt's experience as a negotiator and his calm demeanor, and he shared a story about lying down on Greenblatt's couch to chat and get his perspective.

The national security adviser acknowledged that Mr. Trump is "disruptive" and "not a super patient man," and he said of Mr. Trump that he does not have the time to debate doctrine but is very "results-oriented" for his "investors," who are now the American people.

Before McMaster took the stage, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer praised U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley and President Trump for their support of Israel. 

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman will not be meeting with Abbas Wednesday. 

"He's not that into me," was the pithy response from Friedman when asked by CBS News about it at the Israel Day party.

The Orthodox bankruptcy lawyer for Mr Trump was recently confirmed to be America's lead diplomat in Israel, despite controversial past statements comparing liberal Jews to Nazi collaborators and giving financial support to a yeshiva in the West Bank headed by a militant rabbi.

It is not unusual, however, for the U.S. ambassador not to meet Abbas, who typically makes contact with U.S. consul general based in Jerusalem. The consul general will attend Wednesday's meeting as will Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.  

Ambassador Friedman acknowledged that at some point in the future he'd likely meet the leader of the Palestinian Authority, which governs the West Bank. He declined to comment on whether the U.S. Embassy will indeed move to the contested city of Jerusalem, as candidate Trump promised. However, he said he and his wife will establish their primary home this month in the King David hotel in Jerusalem. They'll also spend time at the U.S. ambassador's residence in Herzliya nearby the US- recognized capital of Tel Aviv.

  • Margaret Brennan

    Principally assigned to the State Department, Margaret Brennan also serves as a CBS News general assignment correspondent based in Washington, D.C.