JERUSALEM, Israel – U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman stirred up some controversy in the Muslim world when he told the Jerusalem Post what President Donald Trump pledged on the 2016 campaign trail for months: that the U.S. will ultimately move its embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.
Friedman said the president has made his position clear on the embassy move and that it is a matter of "when," not "if." Vice President Mike Pence used the exact same description in July.
In Friedman's wide-ranging interview with the Post, he explained that the only issue remaining concerning the embassy move is the timing. "We think about that all the time," he added.
Palestinian representatives and their supporters were also upset by Friedman's reference to Israel's "alleged occupation" of Judea and Samaria (a/k/a the West Bank). It was a phrase in the Post interview in which Friedman was explaining how there are much more nuanced views among both the left and right in Israel than he had imagined before becoming ambassador. But it was seized upon in a number of media outlets.
One unnamed Palestinian official called on the Trump administration to clarify its position on the West Bank. He told The Guardian that Friedman "has an extensive record of attacks against the national rights of the Palestinian people, including funding illegal colonial settlements and participating in celebrations of the Israeli occupation."
Israel considers the territory to be disputed rather than occupied.
Last week, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the uprooting of Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria has ended.
Friedman described Trump's relationship with Netanyahu as "phenomenal."