President-elect Donald Trump said Thursday he plans to nominate David Friedman, an Orthodox Jewish lawyer with hardline views on Israel, to serve as the next U.S. ambassador to the tiny Jewish-majority state.
Friedman advised Trump throughout the campaign, and his views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel.
Friedman holds conservative positions on Israel, and earlier this year he called supporters of the progressive Jewish advocacy group J Street “worse than kapos” for supporting a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Friedman has also said in the past that he does not believe Israeli settlement activity is illegal and he opposes a ban on construction in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, Friedman said “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 U.S. Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
“The bond between Israel and the United States runs deep, and I will ensure there is no daylight between us when I’m President,” Trump said in a statement Thursday evening. “As the United States’ ambassador to Israel, David Friedman will maintain the special relationship between our two countries. He has been a longtime friend and trusted adviser to me.”
Trump added: “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.”
The Republican Jewish Coalition was quick to praise Friedman’s appointment, and their executive director Matt Brooks called it “a powerful signal to the Jewish community.”
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