U.S. President-elect Donald Trump has nominated a controversial figure to become the country’s next ambassador to Israel.
Bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman, with far-right leanings, is Trump’s choice.
Friedman has expressed his opposition to a key tenet of U.S. policy in the region: the two-state solution of an Israeli and Palestinian state living peacefully side by side. He has also compared liberal Jews in the U.S. to the Jews who helped the Nazis during World War II.
In a statement acknowledging his nomination, Friedman said he looked forward to doing his job "from the U.S. embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem."
The U.S. embassy is in Tel Aviv. Both Israel and Palestinians claim Jerusalem as their capital, and its status has long been a part of peace negotiations.
Friedman was an adviser to Trump during the campaign when Trump said he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a measure sure to raise international objections, especially from the Arab world.
Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat told the Associated Press this week he has talked with Trump’s staff about relocating the embassy to Jerusalem. Barkat said his conversations have led him to believe Trump is serious about making the move.
Past U.S. presidents have advocated moving the embassy to Jerusalem, but never actually took action on the matter.
Friedman is also is a proponent of annexing the West Bank, something most of the international community considers illegal.
“This nomination is reckless,” said Jeremy Ban-Ami, the president of J Street, a leftist pro-Israel, U.S.-based organization. “Friedman should be beyond the pale for senators considering who should represent the United States in Israel.”
The conservative Jewish-American Zionist Organization for America welcomed news of Friedman’s nomination. The group said Friedman has “the potential to be the greatest U.S. ambassador to Israel ever.”