New US ambassador to Israel funds illegal settlements & owns a house in Jerusalem NO legitimacy as a broker of peace
Never before has the the United States choice for US ambassador to Israel provoked such controversy.
On March 23 2017 the United States Senate swore in David Friedman, 57, with a 52-46 vote, a man who opposes a Palestinian state, actively fundraises for illegal Israeli settlements and owns a house in Jerusalem.
"This appointment should explode any remaining doubts among Palestinians and the international community that the US can be any kind of honest broker," Nur Arafeh, an analyst with a Palestinian think-tank, told Al Jazeera. She stated, "It confirms that the Americans have no positive role to play in the struggle for self-determination or rights for the Palestinian people."
Major Jewish organisations, hundreds of Rabbis and tens of thousands of American Jews signed a petition urging the Senate to vote against his confirmation.
Friedman is the president of American Friends of Beit El Institutions, a non profit fund which raises millions of dollars for an illegal, Jewish-only settlement in the Palestinian West Bank. The money has paid for several schools and news organisations in Beit El, a town with approximately 7,000 residents north of Ramallah.
The Friedman Faculty House at the Raaya Girls High School is located in Beit El. It bears a plaque stating:
DAVID & TAMMY FRIEDMAN
IN HONOR OF THEIR PARENTS
RABBI & MRS. MORRIS & ADELAIDE FRIEDMAN
MR. & MRS. JULIUS & BUNNY SAND”
A small part of this neighborhood was demolished by High Court of Justice order five years ago because the land had been seized illegally.
According to Haaretz, Friedman is also a fundraiser for and donor to the American branch of Ateret Cohanim; a far-right wing Israeli group that settles Israelis in key locations in East Jerusalem and al-Aqsa. The organisation has raised over $25 million over the past 20 years.
An Orthodox Jew and son of a New York Rabbi, Friedman has worked on President Trump’s legal team for the past 15 years. The 57-year-old joined President Trump on his 2016 election trail as an adviser on Israel.
The now ambassador to Israel owns a home in Talbiyeh, a neighbourhood in Jerusalem which was the site of mass Palestinian displacement during Israel’s creation in 1948. Friedman has fervently advocated moving the US embassy to Jerusalem, as promised throughout President Trump’s 2016 campaign.