The lawyer is strongly critical of long-standing U.S. goal of a two-state solution to the Palestinian conflict. The 57-years-old supports the Jewish settlement building in the occupied West Bank, which is seen by Obama administration as an “obstacle to peace.”
The Conservatives welcomed the nomination whereas a liberal Jewish group opposed it. Mr. Friedman said that he look forward to “work from the U.S. Embassy in Israel’s capital, Jerusalem,” a statement which will surely anger Palestinians.
The U.S. Embassy has been located in Tel Aviv for decades as UN doesn’t recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. During the presidential campaign, Trump promised to move the capital to Jerusalem, one of the several overtures he made to Israel.
The status of Jerusalem is a contentious issue between Israel and Palestinians. In the 1967 Middle East War, Israel occupied the West Bank and East Jerusalem and considers the entire city as its indivisible capital; Palestinians want East Jerusalem to be the capital of the future Palestinian state.
Mr. Friedman has explicitly supported Jewish settlements in the West Bank in the past. Around 130 settlements were built since 1967 in which around 570,000 Israelis live. Although the settlements are considered illegal under international law, Israel has disputed this.
A liberal pro-Israel group based in Washington, J Street said that it was “vehemently” opposed to the nomination.
“As someone who has been a leading American friend of the settlement movement, who lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials and who has attacked liberal Jews who support two states as ‘worse than kapos,’ Friedman should be beyond the pale for senators considering who should represent the United States in Israel.”
Kapos were Jewish prisoners in World War II who were put in charge of other inmates by SS. They were seen by many as complicit in the brutal treatment of other detainees.
A conservative pro-Israel Jewish-American group, Zionist Organization for America has welcomed the nomination saying that Mr. Friedman “had the potential to be the greatest U.S. ambassador to Israel ever.”
Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed Donald Trump’s election as he didn’t enjoy warm relations with President Barack Obama.
David Freidman grew up in Woodmere, New York and graduated from Columbia College and New York University Law School. He represented Mr. Trump as a bankruptcy attorney in relation with Trump’s investment in Atlantic City casinos.
He speaks fluent Hebrew and owns a house in Jerusalem which he says that he has visited more than “hundred times.” He’s a strong supporter of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and has criticized the two-state solution as an “illusion.” He has accused the Palestinian leadership of corruption and claimed that the Palestinians wouldn’t care if they are ruled by Israeli P.M. Benjamin Netanyahu or Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. He has also suggested that Israel could annex the predominantly Arab-populated West Bank while retaining its Jewish character.