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Contact: Lauren Theodore at 212-650-4154
New York, NY; December 15, 2016 --
It’s always helpful when the U.S. Ambassador to Israel has a close, personal relationship with the president. In that vein, we hope President-Elect Trump’s nomination of his campaign adviser David Friedman to be the new Ambassador to Israel bodes well for the priority the president-elect plans to place on a strong U.S./Israel relationship.
That said, the concerns we raised during the campaign – which were the subject of my exchange of letters with Friedman at that time – remain. In fact, they are exacerbated by this appointment.
We continue to believe – as have both the American and Israeli governments for a generation – that only a two-state solution will allow Israel to remain both Jewish and democratic while also addressing the legitimate aspirations of the Palestinians. To our great concern, it appears that Mr. Friedman does not share that commitment.
We note, as well, the president-elect’s intention to have Mr. Friedman work from an American embassy to be located in Jerusalem. While we share Mr. Trump’s view that the U.S. Embassy belongs in Jerusalem, Israel’s capital city, we also believe that timing is important, and thus, we are deeply concerned about the impact of any unilateral action, by any country, on the overall situation in the area.
Mr. Friedman’s personal connection to and support of a number of organizations committed to building additional settlements in the West Bank certainly suggests that he will not be an advocate for a two-state solution. Of course, his personal views are far less important than the policy of the U.S. government, and so it is our fervent hope that under his leadership, the American commitment to leadership in the region, to a vibrant U.S./Israel partnership, and to two states will not be diminished.
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