David Friedman, Trump’s choice as US ambassador to Israel, “look[s] forward to doing this from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
US President-elect Donald Trump’s nomination of David Friedman on Thursday as the American envoy to Israel drew applause from pro-Israel circles, especially among those committed to Israeli sovereignty in the biblical Jewish homeland and recognition of a united Jerusalem as capital of the Jewish state.
“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, 57, stated. “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.”
Earlier this week, Kellyanne Conway, Trump’s campaign manager, said that moving the US embassy to Jerusalem was “a very big priority” for the incoming president.
Trump: ‘No Daylight Between Us when I’m President’
“Mr. Friedman, a renowned attorney who has been counselor to some of the world’s top businessmen and companies, was one of the president-elect’s principal advisers on the US-Israel relationship during the campaign. With Mr. Friedman’s nomination, President-elect Trump expressed his commitment to further enhancing the US-Israel relationship and ensuring there will be extraordinary strategic, technological, military and intelligence cooperation between the two countries,” the announcement on the Trump-Pence Transition Team website read.
“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President,” said President-elect Trump. “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 adviser 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.”
Elaborating on Friedman’s credentials, the site noted that “he is a founding partner of Kasowitz, Benson, Torres & Friedman LLP, a national law firm with approximately 350 attorneys. For the past 35 years, he has specialized in litigation and bankruptcy law, playing a leading role in restructuring many of the nation’s most complex financial and business operations. Mr. Friedman has been widely recognized for his outstanding contributions to the legal profession, and has been named one of the 500 leading lawyers in the United States.”
‘A Generous Philanthropist to Jewish Causes’
Friedman, a chief adviser to Trump during the presidential election campaign, “has been a generous philanthropist to Jewish causes, including United Hatzalah of Israel, a nationwide volunteer service of first responders providing aid to all injured Israelis, regardless of race, religion or ethnicity, and Aleh Negev, one of the world’s most advanced facilities for the care of severely disabled children. “Under his leadership and at the President-elect’s direction, the US-Israel relationship will be a model of cooperation and respect,” the statement concluded.
“I wish success for David Friedman, the US ambassador-elect to Israel. He is a great friend to Israel,” Education Minister Naftali Bennett, head of the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party who is opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state in Judea and Samaria, wrote on Twitter.
Friedman, who spent his gap year between high school and college at Yeshivat Har Etzion, a Talmudic institute in Gush Etzion, Judea, “is a true friend and partner of Israel and the settlements,” Yossi Dagan, head of the Samaria Regional Council, stated. “Trump’s choice of Friedman is very important and crucial for Israel at this time. It proves that Trump intends to be genuinely committed to Israel just as was indicated during the campaign. This is a significant statement of intent this morning, and it is very encouraging.”
In September, in a video published by Israel’s Channel 2, Friedman – in agreement with former Ambassador Yoram Ettinger, an expert on US-Israel relations and the Middle East, among others – challenged the widespread claim by advocates of a two-state solution that annexing Judea and Samaria would pose a demographic threat to the Jewish state. “Right now, 75% of the population within the Green Line is Jewish. There are 400,000 Jews in Judea and Samaria, as well as another 400,000 in eastern Jerusalem… the Arab birthrate is declining,” Friedman said.
J Street Slams Appointment
Liberal US Jewish organizations such as J Street and Americans for Peace Now, who supported the Obama administration as well as opposing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in the last Israeli election, slammed Trump’s pick.
“J Street is vehemently opposed to the nomination of David Friedman to be Ambassador to Israel,” J Street President Jeremy Ben Ami said in a statement. “This nomination is reckless, putting America’s reputation in the region and credibility around the world at risk.”