Trump’s choice for US Ambassador to Israel hints US policy change

Trump’s choice for US Ambassador to Israel hints US policy change

Middle East, News, US 1 Comment

US lawyer David Friedman has vowed to move US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem – a hugely divisive step.

The appointment of David Friedman as the United States’ next ambassador to Israel and his declared intention to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, drew praise from Israelis alongside condemnations from Palestinians and Arabs.

President-elect Donald Trump’s choice, David Friedman, holds distinctly conservative views in direct opposition to long-standing U.S. policy in Middle East. Friedman opposes a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, actively supports Israeli settlements and advocates for Israel’s annexation of the West Bank, maintaining that the occupied Palestinian Territories are not occupied.

Friedman, 57, an Orthodox Jew who is fluent in Hebrew, is known for hardline views that depart from decades of established American policy and in some cases are to the right of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Friedman, most notably, wants to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, thus recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, a disputed city of which both Israelis and Palestinians claim ownership. Jerusalem is home to the Israeli legislature, the Knesset, and the Israeli Prime Minister’s office.

Israelis have welcomed President-Elect Donald Trump’s choice for Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and are encouraged by his first statement that he will work in his new post “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

Donald Trump and Benjamin Netanyahu

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands next to Donald Trump during a meeting in New York in September. Credit: Reuters

However, analysts and experts believe, there’s likely turbulence ahead. The US shift in the status quo of Jerusalem — home to the third-holiest site in Islam as well as the holiest in Judaism — and away from forging a state for the Palestinians, long seen as an important cause by other Arabs, could revive regional tensions.

Palestinians criticize Trump’s choice for Israel ambassador

The move would likely enrage the Arab world, largely because the Palestinians see East Jerusalem as the capital of their future state.

“This could set off demonstrations in Arab cities and capitals throughout the Middle East and the Muslim world beyond,” according to Professor Chuck Freilich at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, an Israeli university.

A senior Palestinian politician has condemned US President-elect Donald Trump’s choice of ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a right-wing lawyer who has vowed to move the US embassy to Jerusalem.

Moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv before a final agreement on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict “will be the destruction of the peace process”, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO) told journalists on Friday.

Erekat warned of the potential outcome of moving the embassy and a change in the “long-standing position” of the United States that considers “the settlements as illegal”.

“I look David Friedman and Trump in the eye and tell them – if you were to take these steps of moving the embassy and annexing settlements in the West Bank, you are sending this region down the path of something that I call ‘chaos, lawlessness and extremism‘,” he said.

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