Concerns Mount Over Trump’s Pick for Ambassador to Israel

In the wake of Donald Trump’s announcement that his pick for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, would help “strive for peace in the Middle East,” experts have warned that the hardliner is more likely to start a war. The New York Times on Friday published several excerpts of Friedman’s writings, some of them contributions to right-wing publications, showing his alarming opposition to a two-state solution between Israel and Palestine. As he prepares to take one of the most sensitive diplomatic posts, his stance on a Palestinian state alongside Israel is even further to the right than that of Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu, who has spoken out in favor of a two-state solution.

Among the many red flags in Friedman’s background is the fact that he is president of an organization supporting a far-right Israeli news site and a controversial residential settlement on Palestinian land that got into trouble with Israeli authorities, according to the Times report. Palestinians and liberal Jewish American groups have reacted to Friedman’s nomination with alarm, with one senior Palestinian cleric cited saying Friedman’s idea to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem would be akin to “declaring a new war on the Palestinians and all Muslim Arabs.” Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, said Friedman would “appeal to a small minority of Israeli — and American — extremists, ignoring the majority of Israelis who continue to seek peace.”

Although Friedman has extensively contributed to Israeli publications on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many have also expressed concern over his lack of diplomatic experience. Most of his work for Trump has focused on legal work for Trump’s businesses, and his nomination seems to stem more from a close personal friendship between the two men than anything else, according to the Times report.