David Friedman will not make policy, but sends a signal to Palestinians to get serious.
Weakness is not rewarded in the Middle East, as the Obama-Kerry fiasco in Syria is showing.
It also is not rewarded in the Israeli-Palestinian negotiations. Khaled Abu Toameh writing at The Gatestone Institute website, makes the point that Palestinian militants view Israeli concessions as weakness, and actually encourage more intransigence, The Palestinian Jihads against Israel:
Many Palestinians see Israeli concessions, gestures and unilateral moves as proof of capitulation, rather than positive signs testifying to Israel’s peaceful intentions. These “concessions for peace” by Israel further increases Palestinians’ appetite for launching armed attacks against Israel. Today, many Palestinians are convinced that they can achieve more through stabbings, vehicular rammings and shooting attacks than sitting with Israel at the negotiating table.
That phenomenon has also been evident in the repeatedly failed decades-long peace negotiations.
From Yasser Arafat to Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinians just can’t seem to say Yes. That’s because repeated American administrations have signalled the willingness to put more pressure on Israel, none more so than Obama-Kerry. As long as the Palestinians think they’re going a better deal imposed on the Israelis, whether from an American President or the U.N., there can be no real peace.
During the campaign Donald Trump repeatedly stated that he would not try to pressure the Israelis, but he would work to consummate the ultimate deal – an end to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Trump embraced during the campaign a promise to move the U.S. Embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Israel’s capital, Jerusalem. In the short turn, such a relocation wouldn’t require a physical move (there is a Consulate in Jerusalem) so much as a redesignation. In the longer run, the U.S. would want a larger Embassy in Jerusalem than the present consulate, but that can come later.
Relocating the Embassy to Jerusalem would sent an unmistakable signal that Palestinians, if they really want peace, are going to have to stop expecting more Israeli concessions forced by American administrations. It also would signal that the longer term goal of groups like Hamas and many others or destroying Israel is moving further away, not closer.
The incoming Trump administration just signaled that this tough peace-loving approach will be reality, with the nomination of Trump confidant David Friedman to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel.
Friedman is known as a vocal supporter of Israel, including Israeli security needs. His nomination is being greeted with apoplexia by liberal “supporters” of Israel who think the peace problem is that Israel has not made enough concessions, particularly doing in Judea and Samaria (the West Bank) what Israel did in Gaza.
This interview last April with an Israeli newspaper reflects Friedman’s connection to Israel and Trump.
The New York Times headline reflects the liberal perspective even in news coverage, Trump Chooses Hard-Liner as Ambassador to Israel:
President-elect Donald J. Trump on Thursday named David M. Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer aligned with the Israeli far right, as his nominee for ambassador to Israel, elevating a campaign adviser who has questioned the need for a two-state solution and has likened left-leaning Jews in America to the Jews who aided the Nazis in the Holocaust.
Mr. Friedman, whose outspoken views stand in stark contrast to decades of American policy toward Israel, did not wait long on Thursday to signal his intention to upend the American approach. In a statement from the Trump transition team announcing his nomination, he said he looked forward to doing the job “from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Chemi Chalev, writing at the leftist Haaretz, says “Trump’s Radical-right Ambassador, Makes Netanyahu Look Like a J Street Lefty.”
The Times of Israel reports, Liberal Jewish groups rage against Trump’s Israel ambassador pick:
Within an hour of President-elect Donald Trump announcing Thursday that David Friedman, his adviser and long-time friend, was his choice to be the next US ambassador to Israel, liberal Jewish groups let loose with scathing condemnations of the appointment.
J Street is the supposedly pro-Israel liberal U.S. group that never seems to have ANYTHING nice to say about Israel and considers the “occupation” as the root cause of the conflict. George Soros provided the seed money for the group, which J Street initially lied about. J Street’s leader is fuming about the nomination:
Our full take on reckless nomination of David Friedman that puts US reputation and credibility at risk regionally/globally. pic.twitter.com/FTYPKBdHyh
— Jeremy Ben-Ami (@JeremyBenAmi) December 16, 2016
Yet what has J Street and the other liberal groups ever done to promote peace, other than feed into the Palestinian perspective that concessions are weakness?
Friedman himself will not develop policy. Ambassadors don’t do that. But nominating Friedman is a strong signal that the Trump administration will take a tough peace-loving policy. One that *might* work, but will do no harm because the weak policies of past administrations haven’t.
Here is some more reactions:
— David Axelrod (@davidaxelrod) December 16, 2016
— Marc Zell (@GOPIsrael) December 16, 2016
.@JeremyBenAmi You had Obama. Now you only have your bombast. Your concern for Israel is paper-thin.
— (((Margie))) (@MargieInTelAviv) December 16, 2016
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