By Nathan Guttman / Forward
December 16, 2016
“Everything an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy. The president hasn’t been sworn in yet, the Secretary of State hasn’t spoken about this, and he’s already talking about the policy he is going to change. This is unheard of.”
—Daniel Kurtzer, Former U.S. Ambassador to Israel
President-Elect Donald Trump’s decision to appoint David Friedman as his ambassador to Israel is brewing into a Jewish battle royale for supporters and detractors of the two-state solution.
For the Jewish left, Friedman appointment has quickly emerged as a banner for rallying troops already concerned with the impact the Trump presidency will have on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. On the right, Trump’s choice of a pro-settlement bankruptcy lawyer as chief envoy to Israel is seen as ushering in a new era of settlement expansion and changing the fundamentals of American policy toward the conflict.
The importance of Friedman’s appointment cannot be overstated, according to former ambassador to Israel Daniel Kurtzer.
“Every thing an ambassador says and does has an impact on policy,” said Kurtzer. He added that usually an ambassador implements policies set by the administration, but Friedman seems intent on forging his own stands. To prove the point, Kurtzer referred to Friedman’s comment in the official statement on his appointment in which he expressed his intention to work “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
“The president hasn’t been sworn in yet, the Secretary of State hasn’t spoken about this, and he’s already talking about the policy he is going to change,” said Kurtzer. “This is unheard of.”