New U.S. ambassador to Israel officially takes up post

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David Friedman was officially received by Israeli President Reuven Rivlin as new U.S. ambassador in a ceremony Tuesday, less than a week before President Donald Trump is set to visit.

It is unclear whether the settlement-friendly Friedman will work out of the US Embassy building in Tel Aviv.

He hinted shortly after his nomination last year that he foresaw himself working from Jerusalem, implying the embassy would move there, in a break from precedent.

However, Trump has backed off his campaign promises to move the embassy, and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told broadcaster NBC on Sunday that “the president is being very careful to understand how such a decision would impact a peace process.”

 

 

Friedman advised Trump throughout his presidential campaign and has taken a hardline position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, going after US Jewish groups who back a two-state solution and saying he does not find Israeli settlement activity in the West Bank illegal.

Israel has long considered Jerusalem to be its capital, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the run-up to Trump’s visit, has called for all countries to relocate their embassies there.

However, since the Palestinian Authority would like to make East Jerusalem the capital of an eventual state, picking Jerusalem as an embassy site would show clear favour to one side over the other.

To avoid this, most countries have their embassies in Tel Aviv.(dpa/NAN)
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