NEW YORK (Reuters) - Donald Trump will nominate bankruptcy attorney David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel, the president-elect’s team said in a statement on Thursday, and Friedman said he looked forward to taking up his post in Yerushalayim.
The U.S. embassy has for decades been located in Tel Aviv. Trump had pledged during the presidential campaign to move it to Yerushalayim, a move almost certain to provoke objections from Muslims around the world.
“[Friedman] has been a long-time friend and trusted advisor 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,” Trump said in the statement.
During the campaign, Trump made it clear he would support Israel in a number of critical areas, including moving the American embassy to Yerushalayim, all but enshrining the city as Israel’s capital over international objections, and not applying pressure on Israel for talks with the Palestinians.
The United States and other powers do not regard Yerushalayim as Israel’s capital – in addition to the U.S., other embassies are in Tel Aviv – and do not recognize Israel’s annexation of East Yerushalayim following its capture in the Six-Day war.
One of the thorniest issues is resolving the rival Israeli and Palestinian demands on Yerushalayim’s future. Palestinians regard the city as the future capital of a separate state.
Friedman, who specializes in litigation and bankruptcy law, said he would 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.”
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who has a fractious relationship with Democratic President Barack Obama, has welcomed Republican Trump’s election, chatting with him by phone and posting a video on social media promoting the ties between the countries.
Updated Thursday, December 15, 2016 at 7:43 pm