International

Israel is ‘on the side of God’: US ambassador

JERUSALEM, May 15 (Agencies) | Publish Date: 5/15/2019 11:44:26 AM IST

The United States ambassador to Israel, a driving force in crafting the Trump administration’s long-awaited proposal to settle the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, declared Tuesday that Israel was “on the side of God.”

According to New York Times, speaking at a celebration sponsored by an American evangelical group to mark the anniversary of the move of the United States embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv, Ambassador David M. Friedman said that Israel was gaining strength for two reasons. 

First, he said, the relationship between the two countries was growing “stronger and stronger and stronger.” “And the second is that Israel has one secret weapon that not too many countries have,” Mr. Friedman added. “Israel is on the side of God, and we don’t underestimate that.”

The remark reflected a common belief among evangelical Christians, but was also the latest sign of an anything but evenhanded approach to the conflict by the Trump administration.

In addition to moving the embassy to Jerusalem, a move seen as partial to Israel in the dispute over the city’s sovereignty, the administration has made deep cuts in aid to the Palestinians and stopped referring to the West Bank as “occupied.”

Mr. Friedman seemed to acknowledge as much moments later, rattling off a litany of other moves the administration has made that broke with precedent in Israel’s favor, including punishing the Palestinians by closing their diplomatic mission in Washington and merging the formerly independent Jerusalem consulate, which had exclusively dealt with the Palestinians, with the embassy.

Still, the remark set off new howls of criticism, with Palestinians complaining that Mr. Friedman was representing the interests of Israel’s right-wing government more than those of the United States. Even one of Mr. Friedman’s predecessors called the statement out of bounds.

“As the ambassador of the far-right Orthodox Jewish community in the United States, Friedman’s comment makes sense,” said Daniel C. Kurtzer, who was Washington’s ambassador in Israel under both Republican and Democratic presidents. “As the supposed ambassador of the United States government and all its people, it is an extremely inappropriate comment.”

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