Trump Announces Next US Envoy to Jewish State Will Be Attorney David Friedman, Who Says He Looks Forward to Working From ‘Israel’s Eternal Capital, Jerusalem’
President-elect Donald Trump announced on Thursday evening he will nominate attorney David Friedman to serve as the next American ambassador to Israel.
“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m president,” Trump said in a statement published on his transition team’s website. “As the United States’ ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries. He has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor to me. His strong relationships in Israel will form the foundation of his diplomatic mission and be a tremendous asset to our country as we strengthen the ties with our allies and strive for peace in the Middle East. Nothing is more critical than protecting the security of our citizens at home and abroad.”
The 57-year-old Friedman — a Jewish Long Island native — was regularly consulted with by Trump on Israel-related matters during the presidential election campaign.
“I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump to represent the United States as its ambassador to Israel,” Friedman said in statement on Thursday. “I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Friedman — a founding partner of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP — was referring to Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
The litigation and bankruptcy law expert will take the place of Dan Shapiro, who has served as the US envoy to the Jewish state since 2011.
In a pre-election interview with The Algemeiner in early November, Friedman said that a Trump administration would not expect Israel to uproot its citizens who now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of any future peace deal with the Palestinians.
“It is inconceivable there could be a mass evacuation on that magnitude, in the unlikely event that there was an otherwise comprehensive peace agreement,” Friedman said. “It makes no sense for Judea and Samaria to be ‘Judenrein [void of Jews],’ any more than it makes sense for Israel to be ‘Arabrein [void of Arabs].’ It’s not fair.”
This would mark a departure from the Obama administration, which criticized Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu earlier this year after he said, as reported by The Algemeiner, that the main obstacle to peace was the demand of Palestinian leaders for the “ethnic cleansing” of Jews from the West Bank.
Friedman went on: “The critical thing is to recognize that there is not going to be any progress on a Palestinian state until the Palestinians renounce violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state. Until that happens, there is really nothing to talk about in terms of a political process.”
What a Trump administration would not do, Friedman said, “is put its finger on the scale and try to force Israel into a particular outcome, but rather will support Israel in reaching its own conclusion about how to best achieve peace with its neighbors.”
“We trust Israel,” he continued. “We think it is doing an excellent job of balancing its respect for human rights and its security needs in a very difficult neighborhood. Israel is a partner with the US in the global war against terrorism. And we want our partner to be attendant to that task and not distracted by foreign countries telling it what to do. That’s really the overall premise of the policy — to respect Israel as a partner, and not to unduly influence its decisions.”
Furthermore, Friedman said, “The only thing that makes sense now is to take small steps to try to improve circumstances on the ground and provide encouragement and assistance to Palestinians who are not pursuing a hateful agenda.”