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David Friedman's hardline positions endanger Palestinians

Photo: Mike Merryman-Lotze / AFSC

The American Friends Service Committee urges members of Congress to reject president-elect Donald Trump’s choice of Zionist hardliner David Friedman for U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Friedman has already signaled that his approach to Palestine and Israel will favor extreme positions. He has endorsed Israeli settlements in Palestinian territory, in violation of international law, including supporting annexation of large parts of the West Bank. He has also positioned himself against Palestinian rights through his particular opposition to the two state solution, which imposes his views on both Palestinians and Israelis. The combination of these two positions amounts to support for what can only be called apartheid, where Palestinians have neither the right to a state nor equal rights while living under the control of Israel. Friedman’s apparent stance fails to see Palestinians as possible citizens of a state within historic Palestine borders, effectively a call for ethnic cleansing.

His statement that supporters of J Street, a U.S. based advocacy group that works for a peaceful and diplomatic end to the conflict in Israel and occupied Palestine, are “worse than kapos” is particularly ominous. Friedman has also signaled that he would move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a step sure to worsen efforts toward a peaceful resolution of the crisis in the region. Moving the embassy is also going against the international community which does not recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

Friedman’s appointment poses a very direct threat to AFSC’s staff and partners in the region.  His positions, including his support of settlements, put in danger groups, including AFSC, that defend the rights and equality of all on the ground, that want freedom and justice, and that want a land for all without discrimination and oppression.

In the aftermath of World War II, AFSC was asked by the United Nations to organize relief efforts for Palestinian refugees in Gaza. From this initial engagement, AFSC has been committed to peace-building as well as relief efforts, and was one of the earliest U.S. organizations calling for Palestinian rights. Today we work in Israel and occupied Palestine to end violence and foster peace.

Palestinians in Gaza and beyond have been suffering for more than a decade under an Israeli imposed-blockade that undermines basic human rights and dignity. For peace to be achieved in the region, Palestinians and Israelis must achieve a shared security, one in which all people have access to basic resources and have their human rights respected. In contrast, the new U.S. administration seems poised to escalate the conflict through its positions on the issues and parties involved and support for militaristic policies.

AFSC will work to oppose the appointment of Friedman and others whose positions are a threat to the foundations of peace, justice, and civil rights we have worked to support over a century of service, and we urge members of Congress to do the same.

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