Posted tagged ‘David Friedman’

State Dept Denies Request By US Ambassador Friedman, Says ‘Occupation’ Still Exists

December 27, 2017

State Dept Denies Request By US Ambassador Friedman, Says ‘Occupation’ Still Exists, Jewish PressHana Levi Julian, December 27, 2017

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman speaks during the 16th anniversary memorial ceremony for the victims of 9/11 attacks in a memorial monument in the Jerusalem Hills on September 11, 2017.

Because there is pressure “from above” involved in the issue, however, Friedman and those with whom there is a disagreement have agreed to review the matter, according to the report, leaving the final decision up to U.S. President Donald Trump.

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Israel’s Kan public broadcaster reported Tuesday that the U.S. State Department has refused to comply with Ambassador to Israel David Friedman’s request that official documents no longer use the term “occupation” in its references to Israel.

Friedman, an attorney, explained (as he has a number of times in the past) that United Nations Resolution 242 was deliberately written at the time in such a way as to reflect that the areas in which Jewish communities were built were always intended to remain with Israel.

Because there is pressure “from above” involved in the issue, however, Friedman and those with whom there is a disagreement have agreed to review the matter, according to the report, leaving the final decision up to U.S. President Donald Trump.

David M. Friedman is the New US Ambassador to Israel

March 23, 2017

David M. Friedman is the New US Ambassador to Israel, The Jewish PressLori Lowenthal Marcus, March 23, 2017

David Friedman

David Melech Friedman is the new U.S. Ambassador to Israel, following a close 52-46 vote in the Senate on Thursday afternoon. The only Democrats to vote in favor were Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) and Sen. Joe Manchin (WV).

Friedman, nominated by President Donald J. Trump on his first day in office, was forced to patiently tap his foot before a hearing was scheduled, and then to endure a hostile, at times brutal, grilling during the confirmation hearing process. Nonetheless, the intensely partisan Washington vapors which have infiltrated even previously bipartisan issues such as support for Israel was overcome, and Friedman was confirmed thanks to the Republican majority in the Senate.

Friedman now prepares to head to Jerusalem, where he will attempt to continue dismantling the Obama legacy of hostility towards the Jewish State and, especially, towards Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s Prime Minister.

The first signal people will be watching for is whether Friedman sets up shop in Jerusalem, as he has promised. The U.S. Embassy has been in Tel Aviv which is not the capital of Israel, a sore point between the two strong allies.

Friedman’s nomination hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee took place on March 9. That hearing was contentious, with the nominee forced to repeatedly apologize for strongly Zionist statements he had made in writing and public speeches.

A particular focus of the Democrats on the committee was Friedman’s contempt for the “Two State Solution” as the only goal of the peace process, as well as his support for Jewish communities beyond the 1949 Armistice Line. In addition, Friedman was castigated for his bald criticisms of those whose pro-Israel bona fides are strongly suspect, including J Street members and Jonathan Greenblatt, the new head of the Anti-Defamation League.

It is expected that Friedman will quickly leave for Israel where he has long maintained a residence in Jerusalem.

David Friedman Approved as US Amb to Israel by Senate Comm

March 9, 2017

David Friedman Approved as US Amb to Israel by Senate Comm, The Jewish PressLori Lowenthal Marcus, March 9, 2017

David Friedman

The controversial – because so ardently pro-Israel – nominee to become the U.S. Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday morning.

The contentious hearing on Friedman’s nomination took place back in mid-February. Since then, Friedman and his supporters have been biting their nails, waiting for the committee to vote on the nomination.

In the month between the committee hearing and Thursday’s vote, many U.S. organizations which deal with Israel worked actively to encourage Senators to vote in accordance with those organization’s values.

J Street, the prog-elite organization highly critical of Israel and especially Israel’s security efforts, worked overtime in an effort to derail Friedman’s nomination.

Firmly pro-Israel organizations such as Americans for a Safe Israel, EMET, Iron Dome Alliance, Jews Choose Trump, ZOA, COPMA and JCC Watch hand-delivered a letter to all members of the SFRC urging them to vote in favor of the nomination.

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) did not take a position on Friedman’s nomination.

The vote in favor of Friedman went almost strictly along party lines. Almost, because Democrat Sen. Bob Menendez (NJ) once again voted his conscience and refused to be intimidated by party leadership. Menendez voted “aye” when his name was announced during the roll call vote on Thursday morning. The New Jersey Senator had also voted against approving the Nuclear Iran Deal which had become a highly partisan issue.

Committee member chair Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) spoke briefly before the vote. His endorsement was read without emotion from a prepared statement. Next to speak was the ranking committee member Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), who had already announced that he was going to vote against the nomination.

Cardin said the words Friedman had used in various op-eds which were extremely negative suggested to him that Friedman would not prove to be the “unifying force” needed in the region. The Maryland Senator was also critical of Friedman’s statements in opposition to the “Two State Solution.”

Senators Tom Udall (D-NM) and Tim Kaine (D-VA) also spoke against Friedman’s nomination. Both Senators took umbrage at Friedman’s past written criticisms of far left organizations and members of the U.S. government, including former President Barack Obama.

The four brief statements were then followed by a roll call which resulted in the voting out, with approval, of Friedman’s nomination.

The nomination now awaits a vote by the full Senate.

Bernie Sanders to Friedman: Should Some Israel Funds go to Gaza?

March 3, 2017

Bernie Sanders to Friedman: Should Some Israel Funds go to Gaza?, Jerusalem Post, March 2, 2017

(Why shouldn’t we give everything to the IRGC, Al Qaeda and the Taliban instead? Aren’t they our allies in fighting the non-Islamic State.– DM)

bsandersBernie Sanders speaking at an event in Phoenix, Arizona.. (photo credit:GAGE SKIDMORE)

Washington (JTA) — Sen. Bernie Sanders asked David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, whether he would back using funds earmarked for assistance to Israel to help rebuild the Gaza Strip.

Sanders in a letter he handed Friedman after they met Wednesday also asked whether he thinks the tax-exempt status of groups that fundraise for settlers should be reviewed. JTA obtained a copy of the letter on Thursday.

The questions in the letter are significant as they suggest the path forward for Israel policy among progressive Democrats.

Sanders has emerged as a de facto leader of progressives following his insurgent but unsuccessful campaign last year for the Democratic presidential nomination. In perhaps the best-received speech over the weekend at the annual conference of J Street, the liberal Middle East policy group, Sanders pushed the theme that pro-Israel Jews need not hesitate to criticize Israeli government policies.

His letter outlines three questions for Friedman: whether he supports a two-state outcome to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict; the appropriateness of an ambassador having deep involvement in the settler movement as a fundraiser and advocate, as Friedman does; and regarding Israeli assistance.

Two states has long been Democratic policy and for 15 years was official U.S. policy until Trump retreated into agnosticism on the issue when he met last month with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The second two points, however, venture into areas that Democrats have yet to embrace.

“As ambassador, would you take steps to end the flow of donations to illegal settlements, perhaps by supporting the re-examination [of] their tax-exempt status?” Sanders asked.

J Street has advocated for withdrawing tax-exempt status for groups that fundraise for settlements. Other pro-Israel groups – including some of J Street’s allies on the left – oppose the position, in part because it could trigger far-reaching consequences for all nonprofits on the left and right while turning tax-exempt status into a political battlefield.

Sanders also asked Friedman whether “a portion” of the $38 billion in defense aid to Israel over the next 10 years under an agreement signed last year by former President Barack Obama “should be directed toward measures that would facilitate a much greater flow of humanitarian and reconstruction materials” to Gaza.

Aid to Israel in Congress and the pro-Israel community has been sacrosanct, and no president has seriously proposed cutting it since Gerald Ford in the mid-1970s. Subsequent presidents used short delays in delivery of assistance and the amount that the United States guarantees Israel’s loans as means of leveraging pressure on Israel, but assistance has been untouched.

Sanders cast the proposal in part as one that would help secure Gaza by stabilizing the strip. But it comes at a time that Republicans in Congress are proposing cutting assistance to the Palestinians as a means of pressuring them into direct talks with Israel and pushing the Palestinian Authority to end subsidies for the families of jailed or killed terrorists.

Friedman, a longtime lawyer to Trump, did not reply to a request for comment. His ambassadorship is controversial in Congress and in the Jewish community because of his past involvement with settlers, and because of the rhetoric he has used to describe Jews who disagree with him.

New Yorker: Obama Out to Sabotage Trump’s Israel Policy

December 30, 2016

New Yorker: Obama Out to Sabotage Trump’s Israel Policy, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield, December 30, 2016

trumpisrael

New Yorker editor David Remnick is a shameless Obama hack. He also despises Israel.

The White House has a long history of routing its spin through people like that. But the spin itself can be revealing. Here’s what Remnick is spinning about Obama’s new war on the Jewish State.

For at least two years, President Obama, frustrated by Netanyahu and by failed attempts to make serious progress on the Palestinian question, has been considering the question of legacy. Pressed by Kerry, who has shown an almost quixotic desire to press the Israelis, Obama considered laying out a framework of any future peace.

Two things.

1. Pressed by…. desire to press. Really? Just because Remnick is a hack doesn’t mean he has to write like one.

2. There’s a backdoor admission, as usual, that Israel is right about Obama being behind the UN resolution. And that Obama Inc. is lying.

Obama expected that Hillary Clinton would win the election; he thought it would be better to coördinate what sort of diplomatic gesture to make before leaving the White House…

But then came the Trump victory. The President-elect’s appointment of David Friedman, a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer, as the next U.S. Ambassador to Israel “had a lot of weight in the President’s thinking” about what to do next, one senior Administration official told me. The official told me that the Administration had been “alarmed” by many of Trump’s appointments to his national-security team—notably the appointment of Michael Flynn as national-security adviser—but the selection of Friedman was “over the top.”

“The last thing you want to do as you leave office is to pick a fight with the organized Jewish community, but Friedman is so beyond the pale,” the adviser said.

So, for all intents and purposes, this is an admission that Obama went to war with Israel, to sabotage Trump’s foreign policy. Never mind the rest of the spin and propaganda.

And yet is that the truth, or is Obama Inc. handing liberal Jews a sympathetic excuse for its actions. What better way to sell its war on the Jewish State than by claiming that Obama really hates Trump. Israel is just a pawn in the fight between Trump and Obama?

 The appointment of Friedman as the next U.S. Ambassador makes it plain to Netanyahu that the Trump Administration, when it takes power by law and not just by Twitter, will ease the pressure on Israel. In a Trump Administration, Friedman wrote during the campaign in the Jerusalem Post, Israel will feel “no pressure” from the United States and “there will be no daylight between the two countries.”

But then if you believe Remnick, this is what Obama really wants to sabotage.

Trump Gave Money to “West Bank” Settlement

December 19, 2016

Trump Gave Money to “West Bank” Settlement, Power Line, Paul Mirengoff, December 19, 2016

The Washington Post reports that in 2003, Donald Trump gave $10,000 to “institutions in one of Israel’s oldest and most steadfast West Bank settlements.” He made the donation in honor of David Friedman, who is now Trump’s pick to be U.S. ambassador to Israel.

I wish I had known about this before. It would have made me more supportive of Trump.

Trump’s donation was used to support schools in the Beit El settlement. According to the Post, he has donated money to many Jewish schools (yeshivas) in Israel and the U.S.

Beit El was founded in 1977. It is located on the outskirts of Ramallah, a major Palestinian population center. Approximately 1,300 Jewish families live there.

Israeli settlements are a bugaboo of the American left and of some on the center-right, as well. They are an impediment to a “peace” agreement, they say.

But Israel is a vibrant, dynamic, and growing society. The notion that its population should have remained confined to land within the pre-1967 borders in the hope that a peace agreement might one day be reached is ridiculous. One might just as well have expected Americans to confine themselves to the original 13 colonies.

The term “West Bank settlements” gives the game away. The settlements are no more on West Bank than the rest of Israel is. There is no natural barrier between the settlements on the outskirts of Jerusalem and Jerusalem itself. There is no significant natural barrier between the Beit El settlement Trump supported and the Mediterranean Sea.

The Mediterranean Sea is what most Palestinians want to drive Israeli Jews into.

Israel shouldn’t be pressured into assisting Palestinians in this quest by ceding control of the West Bank. And, security concerns aside, it shouldn’t be pressured into abandoning places where its citizens have lived for nearly 40 years (in the case of Beit El).

The only salient facts about the pre-1967 borders are: (1) they were untenable and (2) they were swept away by Israel’s military victory. Losing a war has consequences. There is no exception for losing a war intended to obliterate a nation.

But let’s return to president-elect Trump. Remember when mainstream media stalwarts accused him of running an anti-Jewish campaign in order to appeal to the “alt-right”? I wonder what the “alt-right” will make of Trump’s donations to Jewish educational institutions in the U.S. and Israel.

It’s time for a narrative shift. Hence forward, until further notice, the liberal MSM will no longer portray Trump as Jew-baiting. He will now be deemed fanatically pro-Jewish.

Shocking – the new ambassador to Israel

December 18, 2016

Shocking – the new ambassador to Israel, Israel National News, Att’y Stephen M. Flatow, December 17, 2016

A Jewish ambassador to Israel who is more sympathetic to Israel than to the Palestinians, and who will respect the wishes of the Israeli public and government? Shocking!

I’m not being sarcastic. It really is shocking. Critics of Israel are so accustomed to Jewish ambassadors who harass and undermine the Israeli government, that the prospect of someone completely different has left them frothing at the mouth. 

David Friedman, President-elect Trump’s choice for ambassador to Israel, is completely unlike his predecessors. And that’s what drives the critics of Israel crazy.

For many decades, the top tiers of the State Department and the diplomatic corps were closed to Jews. Everyone knew that their ranks were reserved for blue bloods and white shoes–people who came from the “right” segment of society and belonged to the “right” country clubs.

In the 1970s, though, a certain kind of Jew began to squeeze through the doors at Foggy Bottom. They had names like Daniel Kurtzer, Dennis Ross, Aaron Miller, and Martin Indyk. They were different than most Jews because they were stridently critical of Israel and were willing to devote themselves to forcing Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs.

Indyk served as U.S. ambassador to Israel from 1995 to 1997 and again from 2000 to 2001. His haughty attitude was obvious from early on: he boasted to the Washington Post (2-24-97) that he saw his job in Israel as similar to “a circus master” who “cracks the whip” in order to “get [the animals] to move around in an orderly fashion.”

Indyk’s practice of interfering in Israel’s internal affairs was notorious. In 1995, for example, he lobbied Knesset Members to oppose a law that would have reduced the chances of Israel surrendering the Golan Heights to Syria.

One shudders to think of the dangers Israel would face today if Indyk had his way and the Golan was in the hands of either the genocidal Assad regime or its genocidal ISIS opponents.

Indyk tried to pressure Israel’s chief rabbi to oppose a housing project in a part of Jerusalem that Indyk wanted Israel to give up. He also tried to block the selection of a cabinet minister whom he thought was insufficiently dovish. Things got so bad that the chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee took the unprecedented step of publicly declaring: “Ambassador Indyk needs to be reminded that he is not the British High Commissioner,” alluding to the British Mandate that preceded Israel’s independence.

The appointment of the second Jewish ambassador to Israel, Daniel Kurtzer, in 2001, did not improve matters. Kurtzer repeatedly pressured Israel to remove security checkpoints (lest Palestinian Arab travelers be inconvenienced) and make one-sided concessions on settlement construction (while never asking the Palestinian Authority to limit its illegal construction). He denounced Israel’s budgetary allocations–an extraordinary act of interference in Israel’s internal affairs. Kurtzer even publicly called on the Israeli public to put pressure on the government to make more concessions.

When Israel responded to Yasser Arafat’s sponsorship of terrorism in the autumn of 2002 by besieging Arafat’s headquarters in Ramallah, Kurtzer rode to the rescue of the arch-terrorist by demanding that the Israeli government end the siege. This took place nine months after Israel had captured Arafat’s ship, the Karine A, with its fifty tons of weapons–the episode that revealed Arafat had never changed his terrorist spots. Yet there was the Jewish U.S. ambassador to Israel, nine months later, trying to rescue the mass murderer.

The third Jewish ambassador to Israel, Dan Shapiro, has not been much better. In an interview with Israel Army Radio last year, Shapiro indicated that U.S. support for Israel at the United Nations and other international forums was conditional on Israel accepting moving towards creation of a Palestinian state. that kind of linkage was all too reminiscent of the Indyk “crack the whip” approach.

Earlier this year, Ambassador Shapiro falsely claimed that “Israeli vigilantism in the West Bank goes on unchecked,” that “Israel has two standards of adherence to rule of law in the West Bank– one for Israelis and one for Palestinians,” and that Israel’s settlement policy “raises questions about Israeli intentions.”

That was a thinly-veiled way of saying that Israel is not really interested in peace if it permits the construction of a kindergarten in Judea, Samaria, or many parts of Jerusalem. Shapiro’s statements were so mean-spirited and inappropriate that Prime Minister Netanyahu himself issued a stinging rebuke: “The ambassador’s statements, on the day when a mother of six who was murdered is buried, and on a day when a pregnant woman is stabbed – are unacceptable and wrong,” the prime minister said.

So yes, David Friedman is going to be a very different kind of Jewish ambassador to Israel. Unlike his disreputable predecessors, Friedman will respect Israel’s right to make its own decisions, instead of “cracking whips” and dictating to Israel how to behave. Friedman will be on the side of the exemplars of democracy and freedom in the Middle East, not the terrorists and the totalitarians. In short, Ambassador Friedman will work to strengthen ties between America and its loyal ally, Israel, instead of undermining them.

What a difference!

Anti-Israel Lefties Freak Out Over Trump Pick for Ambassador to Israel

December 16, 2016

Anti-Israel Lefties Freak Out Over Trump Pick for Ambassador to Israel, Front Page Magazine (The Point), Daniel Greenfield. December 26, 2016

(There are other “problems” with Friedman: not only is he Jewish, he even speaks Hebrew. Secretary Kerry suffered from neither deficiency. Instead, he reflected Obama’s sense of balance toward Israel and what he hoped would become the sovereign state of Palestine, spreading from sea to shining sea. Seriously though, why would it be detrimental to America, or even to Israel, to help to keep the only democratic, non-Islamic nation in the Middle East alive? — DM)

hitlercries

There’s a fresh wind blowing through a stale room full of embittered lefties. The US Ambassador to Israel isn’t supposed to be pro-Israel. He’s supposed to represent the compelling US interest in the PLO.

Lisa Goldman of the truly vile hate site 972 really loses her mind.

“David Friedman’s views lie to the right of Meir Kahane’s. Trump naming him as Amb to Israel is a FU to the 70% of US Jews who vote Democrat,” she rants.

No, but it is an FU to the 2% of US Jews who vote for the Green Party and hate the Jewish State. But there’s more…

“This is true. It’s on the record. Trump’s ambassador to Israel called fellow Jews who support a 2 state solution “worse than kapos.”

The Kapos often didn’t have a choice. If Not Now and JVP’s howlers of hate do. And they chose to be what they are. We must never forget that.

Jill Jacobs of the anti-Israel group T’ruah is also most unhappy..

“New ambassador to Israel insults all liberal Jews, esp @JeremyBenAmi,” Jacobs whines.

Oh no. Not poor Jeremy Ben Ami. And Jeremy is also discommoded.

“Lord help friends of Israel if someone like David Friedman is making US policy on Israel rather than John Kerry,” Jeremy squeals.

That would indeed be the clearest sign that the Lord is helping Israel.

But David Friedman’s pick has caused a complete meltdown in the underground volcanic cavern serving as J Street’s HQ. J Street was already running back and forth waving its arms over a move of the embassy to Jerusalem, blocking Bolton and freaking out over the Chanukah party.

Now it’s losing what little is left of its ugly little mind.

“Trump’s pick of Friedman for Israel Amb is anathema to values that underlie US-Israel relationship. We’ll fight this with all we’ve got,” Jeremy Ben Ami rants.

The official J Street statement declares, “J Street is vehemently opposed to the nomination of David Friedman to be Ambassador to Israel.”

It’s hard to think of a better recommendation for Friedman than that.

“Well Friedman, the group (@jstreetu) you once called “worse than Kapos” is going to make this a hard 4 years for you,” Brooke Davies of J Street threatens.

“One idea from @jstreetdotorg: The Senate should block the confirmation of this dangerous extremist,” Logan Bayroff demands.

You can see them sweat.

Trump’s envoy: The new administration ‘won’t tell Israel what policies to adopt’

December 16, 2016

Trump’s envoy: The new administration ‘won’t tell Israel what policies to adopt’, Times of IsraelEric Cortellessa, December 16, 2016

WASHINGTON — Sitting in a conference room together 13 years ago, David Friedman told his friend Donald Trump that he just purchased an apartment in Jerusalem.

Trump, the real estate tycoon, was immediately curious to know the particulars. “How big was it? How much did it cost?” Friedman recalled him asking, describing the conversation during an interview last month with The Times of Israel. When Friedman cited the price, Trump was surprised.

“That’s really a lot of money,” he responded, according to Friedman’s recollection. “For that kind of money, why wouldn’t you buy a place in East Hampton? Why do you have to go all the way to Israel for a second home?”

The Long Island native’s answer was probably one that the man soon to be president was not expecting. “The world has been fighting over every inch of Jerusalem for the past 3,000 years,” Friedman told Trump. “There’s nobody fighting over East Hampton.”

Trump’s eyes then “opened up,” Friedman said, “and that initiated a decade-plus conversation about Israel.”

Now, in 2016, that exchange seems to have been more fateful than it initially seemed to Friedman, who was announced on Thursday as President-elect Trump’s nominee to be the next US ambassador to Israel.

And the first move Friedman made in that official capacity was to indicate that Trump plans to follow through on his campaign pledge to move the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, breaking decades of precedent under both Republican and Democratic administrations, and underlining an apparent inclination to do what other presidential candidates have promised but declined to deliver once they took office: recognize the holy city as Israel’s capital.

domeoftherockAn aerial view of the Dome of the Rock, left, in the compound known to Muslims as al-Haram al-Sharif and to Jews as Temple Mount, in Jerusalem’s Old City, and the Western Wall, center, the holiest site for Jews, October 2, 2007. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Official US policy has long been to insist that the status of Jerusalem can only be determined through a negotiated settlement between the parties, as both Israelis and Palestinians claim it as their capital.

In a statement Thursday, Friedman, a Hebrew-speaker, declared he was “deeply honored and humbled” that his friend of 15 years selected him to represent America to the Jewish state, and he also left the world with a zinger when he said he looked forward to doing his new job “from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

But Friedman’s declared appetite to move the embassy is not the only reason liberal Jewish organizations have responded to his nomination with something close to horror. The 57-year-old bankruptcy lawyer has also been an outspoken and active supporter of the settlement movement, and has argued that Israel doesn’t face a “demographic threat” to its Jewish character if it fails to separate from the Palestinians.

Friedman serves as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that supports the large West Bank settlement near Ramallah, and over the last year, he has excoriated groups who express criticism of Israel’s settlement policy.

friedman-c2-305x172David Friedman, Donald Trump’s adviser on Israel, talks to Channel 2 News on September 12, 2016. (screen capture: Channel 2)

In June, Friedman accused J Street supporters of being “far worse than kapos” in a column for the right-wing, pro-settlement Israel National News website, using the term for Jews who aided Nazis during the Holocaust. Speaking before the Brookings Institution’s annual Saban Forum earlier this month, he refused to walk back his comparison.

Now that he is slated to become the United States’ top diplomat in Israel — so long as the US Senate confirms his appointment — he will assume one of the most delicate positions in American foreign policy, mediating the US relationship with a close ally in an increasingly unstable region, and after eight tumultuous years of ties between the administration of President Barack Obama and the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Last month, Friedman spoke with The Times of Israel about what Trump’s policies and priorities would be toward the Jewish state if he won. Here is what he said.

‘No daylight’ between the US and Israel

When it comes to the US-Israel relationship, Friedman insisted that Trump would represent a sharp break from his predecessor — including in that there would be “no daylight between Israel and America,” a phrase also used in the transition team’s announcement of his selection on Thursday, which indicates a policy of keeping differences out of the public sphere.

“Donald Trump wants to be as supportive of Israel as possible,” Friedman told The Times of Israel. “He doesn’t view Israel as a client state that you just kind of issue directives to. He views Israel as a partner, one of America’s key partners in a global war against Islamic terrorism, so he wants Israel … to be as strong and secure as possible.”

Unlike Obama, who made Israeli settlement construction in the West Bank a fundamental issue of criticism throughout his presidency, Trump will not “put his finger on the scale or tell Israel what policies they should adopt,” Friedman said, adding that his new boss “doesn’t see Israel as in need of any particular correction at this point.”

That principle, he indicated, covers both how Trump will treat the settlement issue and the manner in which Israel seeks to reach an agreement with the Palestinians. The Trump administration will not “dictate to Israel where it can and cannot build” in the West Bank, according to Friedman.

Trump, for his part, has not publicly stated a position on settlements or detailed what kind of a stance he would take. The most common view among Washington’s foreign policy community, and emphatically within the Obama administration, is that, to keep the two-state option alive and ensure Israel’s future as a Jewish and democratic state, the US should try to limit settlement activity to the principal blocs that Israel is expected to retain under any permanent accord.

For his part, Friedman said that a Trump administration “doesn’t see much opportunity for progress until the Palestinians renounce violence and accept Israel as a Jewish state. That’s really a prerequisite.”

One criticism Friedman had of the current president was that Obama saw Israel as “strong” and the Palestinians as “weak,” and thus he believed it was up to the Israelis to take the risks necessary for peace. “Strong vs. weak is less relevant to Trump than the ‘relative conduct of the parties’,” Friedman said.

According to Friedman, Trump was influenced by seeing a video last spring of a stage production put on at a Hamas-affiliated school in Gaza. “Half the kids were dressed up as Israeli soldiers or traditional garb and the other half were dressed up as shahids, and the kids playing terrorists took their fake knives and stabbed all the Jews,” Friedman said of the film. “Fake blood poured on the stage, and the parents all applauded this. In a first grade class.”

knifeA young Palestinian girl attacks ‘Israeli soldiers’ with a knife in a play held in Gaza as part of the ‘Palestine Festival for Children and Education,’ April 2016 (Channel 2 news)

Trump, he said, sees that kind of incitement as “unacceptable and an insoluble impediment to peace.”

But didn’t Trump say he wanted to be neutral?

In February 2016, then-Republican presidential hopeful Trump called Israeli-Palestinian peace “probably the toughest agreement of any kind to make,” but vowed to give it “one hell of a shot.”

He also pledged he would do that by being “sort of a neutral guy,” when pressed by MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough over whether he ascribed fault to either side for failing to reach an accord. “A lot of people have gone down in flames trying to make that deal. So I don’t want to say whose fault is it,” he said. “I don’t think it helps.”

Trump took immediate heat for this promise on the campaign trail, and seemed to indicate a walk-back during his speech at the 2016 AIPAC Policy Conference and elsewhere, but he has not explicitly rescinded this posture.

Friedman argued, however, that his language has been misunderstood. “What he was really referring to was trying to sponsor negotiations that would take place without preconditions,” he said. “That was what he viewed as neutrality, and that’s frankly been the view of the Israeli government for some time.”

Friedman cited Obama’s demand in his first term that Netanyahu place a moratorium on all West Bank settlement construction, as a trust-building measure, to be “an example of the absence of neutrality, but it’s in favor of the Palestinians against the Israelis.”

And what about that two-state solution?

As one of Trump’s top two Israel advisers at the time, along with Jason Dov Greenblatt, Friedman said the candidate had not yet decided exactly how he’d go about handling Israel’s conflict with the Palestinians, but that he would be open to new ideas, including embracing avenues outside the two-state framework.

Friedman stated that, in his discussions with Trump, “a two-state solution is not a priority. I don’t think he is wed to any particular outcome. A two-state solution is a way, but it’s not the only way.”

Unlike the last three presidents, who have tried to push both parties into negotiating a compromise, Trump will let the Israel make its determinations without pressure from the US, said Friedman.

“A Trump administration will try to be helpful with the Israelis bringing stability to the region, to make it as quiet as possible, as peaceful as possible, and ultimately to come up with a long-term solution,” he said. “As far as what that solution is, Trump will be guided by the Israelis’ view, very much so, and will not be seeking to impose any particular path upon the Israeli government.”