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Israel - US Relations - Trump

Donald Trump announced 16 December 2016 he would nominate David Friedman, his long-time attorney and a campaign adviser on Jewish world issues, as US ambassador to Israel. "(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 a statement.

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 US embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem."

While Israel has classed Jerusalem as its capital city since 1950, it has not been formally recognized as such by the international community, who continue maintain their embassies in Tel Aviv.

J Streeta, the dovish lobbying organization that has been critical of some Israeli policies, charged that : "Friedman is a leading American friend and funder of the settlement movement, lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials and has attacked fellow Jews and public figures with hateful accusations that are disqualifying for representing our country in any capacity. Friedman has consistently aligned himself with some of the most irresponsible charges and conspiracy theories of the far-right, Islamophobic fringe in this country."

During the 2016 campaign, Donald Trump won support in Israel with a promise to move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, all but enshrining the ancient city as Israel's capital. While that has been promised many times by presidential candidates in the past, Trump is the sort of leader who may well make it happen, and he would likely have full backing from the Republican-dominated U.S. Congress, too. If it does occur, it would override decades of international diplomacy that holds that the status of Jerusalem is not finalised until a negotiated settlement is reached between Israel and the Palestinians, who want East Jerusalem as the capital of their state, together with the West Bank and Gaza.

The 2016 Republican Platform stated " support for Israel is an expression of Americanism, and it is the responsibility of our government to advance policies that reflect Americans’ strong desire for a relationship with no daylight between America and Israel. We recognize Jerusalem as the eternal and indivisible capital of the Jewish state and call for the American embassy to be moved there in fulfillment of U.S. law. We reaffirm America’s commitment to Israel’s security and will ensure that Israel maintains a qualitative military edge over any and all adversaries.... We oppose any measures intended to impose an agreement or to dictate borders or other terms, and we call for the immediate termination of all U.S. funding of any entity that attempts to do so. "

The transition team of President-elect Donald Trump picked South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley to serve as his UN ambassador on 23 November 2016. Israel’s UN envoy, Danny Danon, issued a statement saying Haley "is a longstanding and true friend of Israel and is an outspoken fighter against the BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement in her state, and throughout the U.S.”

President Donald Trump announced 06 December 2017 that the US formally recognised Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and will begin the process of moving its embassy to the city, breaking with decades of US policy. "I have determined that it is time to officially recognise Jerusalem as the capital of Israel," Trump said. Trump said he intended "to do everything" in his power to help forge a peace deal between Israelis and Palestinians. In the lead-up to Wednesday's speech, Mustafa Marghouti, an independent Palestinian politician, told Al Jazeera: "This is a reckless act from the side of the American president ... . This is a very dangerous act".

King Abdullah II of Jordan - speaking at a press conference in Istanbul with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - said the US was inviting blowback with the decision. "Ignoring the Palestinian, Muslim, and Christian rights in Jerusalem will only fuel further extremism and undermine the war against terrorism," Abdullah said.

Rabbi Alissa Wise, deputy director of the left-wing advocacy group Jewish Voice for Peace, said US evangelical Christians - who voted overwhelmingly for Trump in the 2016 election - are staunch supporters of Israel's right-wing government. Wise also cited billionaire Sheldon Adelson, one of Trump's largest campaign donors, as a possible source of pressure on the president to back Israel's claim to a united Jerusalem.

Las Vegas casino magnate Sheldon Adelson reportedly gave $25m to groups backing Trump ahead of the 2016 election. In April 2017, the Politico news website reported that Adelson had expressed anger at Trump over his failure to fulfil the Jerusalem pledge.

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Page last modified: 09-11-2020 18:41:15 ZULU