US Ambassador Friedman says “settlements are part of Israel”

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US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman during an interview with Walla News on September 28, 2017. (photo: Walla News)

David Friedman’s comments draw accusations of unilaterally changing US policy and “absolute ignorance of facts and laws.”

By Jacob Magid / The Times of Israel / Sep 28, 2017


“There was always supposed to be some notion of expansion into the West Bank, but not necessarily expansion into the entire West Bank; and I think that’s exactly what Israel has done. I mean, they’re only occupying two percent of the West Bank.”
— David Friedman, US Ambassador to Israel

[Ed note: Both US policy and international law recognize Israel as the occupying power in 100% of the West Bank.]


US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Thursday that West Bank settlements “are part of Israel” and that the two-state solution “is not a helpful term” and “has largely lost its meaning,” drawing an angry response from the Palestinians.

Speaking in an interview broadcast on the Walla news website, Friedman was asked for his views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and to speculate on the Trump administration’s plans moving forward on the issue. Some of his answers largely contradicted long-held US positions.

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Mr. Friedman, Where Do You Stand on the Demolition of a Palestinian Village and School?

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Students at Khan al Ahmar village school, Palestine (photo: Vento di Terra)

An open letter to Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel.

By Donna Baranski-Walker / Mondoweiss.net
March 8, 2017


My question: Do your own donations to support education in the Israeli settlement of Beit El and President Trump’s trust in you put you in a unique position to stop Israel’s demolition of Palestinian communities?


David Friedman, esq.
Nominee for U.S. Ambassador to Israel

Dear Mr. Friedman,

I am writing with urgency. I have asked my Senators Feinstein and Harris to forward my questions to you and request your reply. I am bringing these questions forward because although many speculate about what shape peace between Israelis and Palestinians will take in the future, I am most concerned with how you will assure a future for Palestinians who are being forced from their land right now.

The stakes were always high, but since January 2017, this situation is critical. These past two weeks, I have once again been urging everyone I know to write to their Senators and Representatives to urgently request that they call the Israeli Embassy and the U.S. State Department to prevent the imminent demolition of a West Bank Palestinian school and village, this time the village of Khan al Ahmar. Simultaneously we await word of the State of Israel’s position re the appeal by the Palestinian village of Susiya, calls are arriving from the village of Umm al Kheir about the Israeli Army’s demolition of water catchment cisterns in their area, and more.

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What Could Happen if Trump Moves the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem?

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Proposed site of U.S. embassy in Jerusalem. (photo: Getty Images via Economist)

By Rebecca Shabad / CBS News
December 20, 2016


“Even though the peace process is, I think, comatose and is unlikely to advance in the near term, why overload the circuits and potentially take a step that could permanently undermine the prospects of a two-state solution? You’re simply going to feed Iranian propaganda, you’re going to feed Sunni-jihadi propaganda and most likely, you’re going to trigger a fair amount of violence and even terror.”
— Aaron David Miller, The Woodrow Wilson Center


Moving the U.S. embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem may have been one of President-elect Donald Trump’s campaign promises, but experts and Palestinian officials are warning of serious consequences if he follows through.

“We will move the American embassy to the eternal capital of the Jewish people, Jerusalem — and we will send a clear signal that there is no daylight between America and our most reliable ally, the state of Israel,” Mr. Trump said in a speech to the powerful Jewish lobbying group, the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) in March.

Last week, in an indication of Mr. Trump’s seriousness, he announced that he would nominate bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman to serve as ambassador to Israel. Friedman, an Orthodox Jew, made clear in a statement that he looks forward to doing the job from “the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Daniel Kurtzer, U.S. ambassador to Israel under President George W. Bush, called Friedman’s nomination a “serious mistake” in an op-ed in The New York Times over the weekend.

“The consequences of acting upon Mr. Friedman’s public suggestions are clearly dangerous. Moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem — not a pressing issue for most Israelis — will inspire riots across the Islamic world,” Kurtzer wrote. Continue reading

Trump’s Pick for Envoy to Israel Expects Embassy in Jerusalem

A general view of Jerusalem's old city shows the Dome of the Rock in the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as Temple Mount

A view of Jerusalem’s old city showing the Dome of the Rock. (photo: Amir Cohen / Reuters)

By Yara Bayoumy / Reuters
December 16, 2016


In an interview with Israeli left-leaning newspaper Haaretz, in June, Friedman was asked whether Trump would support the creation of an independent Palestinian state — a bedrock of U.S. foreign policy which supports a two-state solution. “The answer is: not without the approval of the Israelis. . . . He does not think it is an American imperative for it to be an independent Palestinian state.”


President-elect Donald Trump said on Thursday he will nominate bankruptcy attorney David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, and Friedman said he looked forward to taking up his post in Jerusalem, implying a move from Tel Aviv that would mark a break in longstanding U.S. foreign policy and anger the Muslim world.

While campaigning for the presidency, Trump pledged to switch the embassy from Tel Aviv, where it has been located for 68 years, to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the city as Israel’s capital regardless of international objections.

“[Friedman] 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,” Trump said in a statement issued by his team on Thursday.

The Republican made clear during his campaign that he would support Israel in a number of critical areas, said he would not put pressure on Israel to engage in talks with the Palestinians.

The United States and other powers do not regard Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Other nations embassies are located in Tel Aviv — and do not recognize Israel’s annexation of Arab East Jerusalem following its capture in the 1967 Middle East war. Continue reading

Friedman Isn’t a Hawk or a Dove — He’s an Ostrich

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David M. Friedman, left, with Donald J. Trump and his daughter Ivanka in 2010. (photo: Bradley C. Bower / Bloomberg)

By appointing a leader of the Israeli settlement project to be his ambassador to Israel, Trump signals a retreat from America’s role as “honest broker” in the region. It’s not hard to see who stands to benefit.

By Jay Michaelson / The Daily Beast
December 18, 2016


Ironically, the appointment of one of the leaders of the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank (ruled illegal by the International Criminal Court and opposed by every American administration since Nixon), and an extreme Jewish nationalist may, in the end, be a catastrophe for Israel.


David Friedman, Donald Trump’s close confidante and ambassador-designate to Israel, is not a right-winger. To be on the right wing implies that one is on a continuum from liberal to conservative. But Friedman — together with around 15% of the Israeli Jewish population — inhabits a different world entirely. His appointment would represent a total realignment of American policy in the Middle East, with the biggest winner being (surprise) Vladimir Putin.

The normal continuum runs as follows. The consensus of the international community, the Israeli government, and every American government for a generation is that that there must be a state of Palestine alongside the state of Israel. Of course, within that consensus, there are hawks and doves, right-wingers and left. Some are willing to take more risks for peace, some are more mistrustful of the people they call “the Arabs” and want any peace process to be slow and gradual. But all agree that it’s not feasible to create an apartheid regime in which 7 million Jews rule over 10 million non-Jews.

But in the world of Friedman, the Zionist Organization of America, the settler wing of the Israeli Right, and some parts of the American Jewish community, the path forward is one state — Israel — led by Jews, favoring Jews legally, and running from the Jordan to the Mediterranean. It is an apartheid state, meaning a state wherein one population has civil rights that another does not; where one has freedom of movement and another does not; where one has the entire apparatus of the state in its control, and the other either cannot vote or is guaranteed a permanent minority. Continue reading

The Grotesque anti-Semitic Turn of David Friedman

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U.S. President-elect Donald Trump. (photo: Lucas Jackson / Reuters)

You don’t even have to be a J Street fan to consider calling them “Kapos,” as David Friedman has done, as disqualifying for such a symbolic post for the U.S. Jewish community.

By David Schraub / Haaretz
December 18, 2016


One does not have to be a J Street member or even a fan to think that comparing them to “Kapos” is grotesque and marginalizing, and should be (what’s the word I’m looking for? Help me out, ADL) disqualifying for any administration post — much less one deeply symbolic for America’s Jewish population.


Early in the Trump transition phase, it looked as if Mike Huckabee would be appointed ambassador to Israel. Huckabee had recently accused Jews of plotting false flag hate crime hoaxes to frame Donald Trump supporters; he also has a bit of a history of tossing out casual Holocaust comparisons and then getting really angry when Jews cry foul.

But Huckabee will not be our ambassador. Instead, Trump has tapped close adviser David Friedman for the role. Friedman has called Barack Obama an “anti-Semite” and contended that J Streeters are “far worse than Kapos.” He also asserted, in the course of advocating “allegiance” standards for Israel’s Muslim citizens, that “In the United States, advocating to overthrow the government by force or violence can get you life in prison” (No, it can’t). And of course, he’s an opponent of the two-state solution.

It’s a little unnerving that the thing Trump looks for in an Israel ambassador is a propensity to frivolously toss out Nazi comparisons. It’s almost like he won’t actually be a real friend in the White House. Imagine that. Continue reading

Jewish Storm Builds Over Friedman’s Appointment as Ambassador

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David Friedman with Donald Trump in Manhattan. (photo: Jerusalem Post)

By Nathan Guttman / Forward
December 16, 2016


“Everything an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy. The president hasn’t been sworn in yet, the Secretary of State hasn’t spoken about this, and he’s already talking about the policy he is going to change. This is unheard of.”
—Daniel Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel


President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is brewing into a Jewish battle royale for supporters and detractors of the two-state solution.

For the Jewish left, Friedman appointment has quickly emerged as a banner for rallying troops already concerned with the impact the Trump presidency will have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the right, Trump’s choice of a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer as chief envoy to Israel is seen as ushering in a new era of settlement expansion and changing the fundamentals of American policy toward the conflict. Continue reading