Trump's Israel ambassador pick: Trump's peace process policy will be guided by 'what Israelis want to pursue'

Story highlights

  • David Friedman said the Trump administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be guided by Israel.
  • Friedman also expressed his belief that most Arabs would prefer to live under Israeli rule.

(CNN)Donald Trump's pick to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in an interview earlier this year that the Trump administration's approach to the Israeli-Palestinian peace process would be guided by what the Israeli government wants to pursue.

Friedman, a fiercely pro-Israel bankruptcy lawyer who first worked for Trump in the 1990s, added that a Trump administration would undo the Iran nuclear deal and expressed his belief that most Arabs would prefer to live under Israeli rule.
The comments reinforce Friedman's hardline position on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which is a departure from long-held US support for the two-state solution. In an op-ed in August, he wrote the two-state solution was just "an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs." Friedman said in a statement issued by Trump's transition team announcing his nomination that he was looking forward to relocating the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, a provocative move that could threaten US relationships with Arab allies.
    Friedman made the comments to Israeli TV in June, when he was advising Trump on Israel.
    "What Mr. Trump believes is that any solution that Israel will propose, whether it's a two-state solution or it's some other creative, out of the box solution, which was designed to bring some incremental level of peace or tranquility to the region, he will be guided by what the Israelis want to pursue," Friedman told Israeli station Channel 2. "Again, what I said earlier I'll repeat. Israel is a friend. The United States under a Trump administration is going to be loyal to its friends. It's going to trust its friend."
    Friedman added that, "the Trump administration is not looking to cut back on foreign aid and will, in all likelihood, increase it significantly."
    Friedman, in a different interview with Israel station News10 in September, again said it would be "correct" to say his that Trump would back the Israeli government in whatever path they choose in the peace process.
    In the June interview, Friedman said Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas was not a "legitimate leader" and said he didn't think Hillary Clinton or President Obama were neutral in their approach to the peace process.
    On the Iran nuclear deal, Friedman said "it will be a core foreign policy objective of a Trump administration to undo this."
    Friedman also said he believed Palestinians would rather live under Israeli rule.
    "I think if you look at the Palestinians, they share something in common with the entire Muslim world, which is 90% or so of them are perfectly fine, good people. They've been hijacked by the 10% that observes radical, Islamic jihad. I think if you went to those 90% and said to them, 'Would you rather live under an Israeli regime or under a new Palestinian state,' I would be shocked if the majority of them wouldn't prefer Israeli rule," he said.
    "If you're an Arab in the Middle East and you want the best economic opportunity, the best educational opportunity, the best health care, if you happen to be gay, if you happen to be a woman, if you happen to want civil rights and you're an Arab, then you really should live in Israel. That's the only place that's going to provide you with those rights and opportunities."
    Watch the interview here: