"We're taking the view that the Israelis have just as much right, if not a much greater right, to Judea and Samaria as the Palestinians," Friedman said.
"That, I think, is frankly a unique position of Donald Trump, and one which we're very proud of," he added.
Donald Trump’s nominee to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, said in a radio interview right before the election that he believed Israelis had just as much a right, if not a greater right, as the Palestinians to control the West Bank.
Israeli occupation of the West Bank has long been viewed by the international community as an obstacle to a two-state peace agreement with Palestine. Friedman’s comments reflect his hardline views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, many of which depart from longtime US policy on the issue.
Friedman made the comments to internet radio show “Your Voice Radio” in November while discussing changes made to the 2016 Republican Party platform. Friedman refers to the West Bank as Judea and Samaria, its biblical name.
“The platform rejects the notion that Israel is an occupier with regard to Judea and Samaria,” Friedman said. “No other president or presidential candidate has ever said that, and that’s important because when the Israelis and the Palestinians sit down, if they ever do, if they’re able to find common ground, it has to be on the basis that both sides have competing rights to this land and that somehow those rights are going to be compromised in a way that respects the mutual claims to sovereignty. What the Obama administration, and frankly the Bush administration as well, have said in the past is that this land is held by Israel against international law.”
Friedman said his view was the Israelis had as much a right to West Bank as the Palestinians and said past presidents were wrong to take the position that Israel was occupying the land.
“Now, I’m a lawyer. I’ve looked at this issue, as have many others. That’s far from certain. Let’s be clear about this,” Friedman said. “The West Bank was captured by Israel from Jordan in a defensive war, and the Jordanians have renounced any claim to that land. The idea that somehow Israel is occupying land from a prior nation when the prior nation doesn’t want it back I think is a terrible misstatement of the law. For some reason, Bush, Obama, Clinton, and others have all clung to this erroneous viewpoint.”
“We’re not taking that view,” he continued. “We’re taking the view that the Israelis have just as much right, if not a much greater right, to Judea and Samaria as the Palestinians. When they sit down and talk to each other, it’ll be on that basis. That, I think, is frankly a unique position of Donald Trump, and one which we’re very proud of.”
During his confirmation hearing last week, Friedman appeared to soften his positions, telling senators on the Foreign Relations committee that he thought the two-state solution remains “the best possibility for peace in the region” and that Israeli settlements – which he has supported in the past – may not be helpful to the peace process.