Why Diplomats are agog at Trump’s Ambassador to Israel?
Why Diplomats are agog at Trump’s Ambassador to Israel? On 10 January 2017, President Trump nominated David Melech Friedman (his former bankruptcy lawyer) as Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the State of Israel. His nomination was approved and he was sworn into the role on 29 March 2017.
Since taking up the post, Ambassador Friedman has overseen a significant shift in American public policy toward Israel and Palestinian Arabs since Israel was established in 1948. For example, he endorsed an idea voiced by President Netanyahu to annex part of the West Bank which is claimed by Palestinians. He advocated for the US Embassy to be moved from Tel Aviv and argued for the US to recognise Israeli control of the Golan Heights.
Diplomats were also sidelined when President Trump tasked Ambassador Friedman, Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner and special envoy Jason Greenblatt to develop a peace deal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. All three men support the settler movement to build housing for Israeli Jews throughout the West Bank (an area occupied by Israel since 1967 but that is claimed by Palestinians).
He also reportedly told Orthodox rabbis that Republicans are friendlier to the Jewish people than Democrats and had equated liberal Jews with Jewish prisoners (kapos) who collaborated with the Nazis during Hitler’s reign.
Current and former diplomats say that the new approach being marshalled by Ambassador Friedman has meant that the United States has abandoned the largely neutral role it has played in Israeli/Palestinian politics for decades (by both Republican and Democratic administrations). The Trump administration has overtly demonstrated its support for Israel at the expense of Palestinian objectives and a peace deal between Israel and Palestine is yet to materialise.
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