By Zaha Hassan
Anyone interested in a just and durable resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict should be disturbed watching the Donald Trump transition unfold.
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As Israel's military occupation over Palestinian land is set to mark 50 years in 2017, the President-elect has nominated David Friedman, a right-wing sponsor of Israel's illegal settlement enterprise, to serve as US ambassador to Israel. And in a move that defies decades of tradition, it's been reported he is also taking an active role in shaping diplomatic efforts; there are reports that Israel asked Trump for help in getting the US to veto a Security Council resolution demanding an end to Israeli settlements — proposed and then delayed by Egypt, and subsequently passed on Friday. Ultimately the United States abstained.
Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer with no relevant experience, is president of the US fundraising arm for Bet El, a settlement built on occupied Palestinian land in the West Bank. His extremist record includes calling President Obama an anti-Semite and labeling American Jews who criticize Israel's military occupation "kapos," a term used for Nazi collaborators. At a time when bold US leadership is required to stop the Israelis from flying off a cliff, destroying any chance of peace, Friedman is the exact opposite of who we need in a diplomatic position.
Both Trump and Friedman have promised to move the US embassy to Jerusalem, thereby recognizing Israeli sovereignty over the city. At best, in one fell swoop Friedman would serve to normalize the acquisition of territory by force. At worst, such reckless disregard for international law and the highly sensitive issues involved could egg on a diplomatic Armageddon.