Strong views and ‘Close to the Boss’: How U.S. Envoy reshaped a conflict

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David Friedman at an embassy residence in Jerusalem. (photo: Dan Balilty for The New York Times)
David Friedman, President Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer-turned-ambassador, leaves his post having radically overhauled policy toward Israel and the Palestinians.

By David M. Halbfinger  |  The New York Times  |  Jan 10, 2021

Far from enhancing American influence on the conflict… Mr. Friedman had reduced it nearly to nil, all but destroying hopes for a two-state solution.
— Husam Zomlot, who headed the Palestinian diplomatic mission in Washington until it was closed

JERUSALEM — Love him or hate him, and most people who have paid attention fall into one camp or the other, Ambassador David M. Friedman will complete his tour of duty in Israel this month having etched his name in history as one of America’s most influential envoys.

It was Mr. Friedman, 62, who drove the radical overhaul of White House policy toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, dreaming up the seemingly endless list of political giveaways that President Trump bestowed upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his supporters on the Israeli right.

“He set a very ambitious agenda,” said Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law, who oversaw the White House Middle East team. “Quite frankly, toward the end we were almost running out of things to accomplish, because David had gotten done so many things that were unthinkable.”

His opponents agreed. The Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, called him a “son of a dog” and refused to meet with him. Liberal Jewish groups accused him of trying to kill a two-state solution.

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