Controversial new US envoy arrives in Israel

Jewish-American bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman has expressed scepticism over the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Photo by: Reuters
Photo by: Reuters

David Friedman, new United States Ambassador to Israel, visits the Western Wall after arriving in the Jewish state on Monday.

Controversial new US ambassador to Israel David Friedman arrived in the country on Monday to take up his post, days ahead of a visit by US President Donald Trump.

Friedman, due to present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday, has been a strong supporter of Israeli settlement building in the occupied West Bank.

After his arrival in Tel Aviv, Friedman visited the Western Wall in Jerusalem, praying there and kissing the sacred site, the holiest location where Jews are allowed to pray.

"I prayed for the president and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip," Friedman said in a video posted on the US embassy's Twitter feed.

"I know it’s going to be an amazing trip," he said.

Scepticism over two-state solution

Friedman, a frequent visitor to Jerusalem, also exchanged words near the wall with Steven Tyler of American rock band Aerosmith, in town for a concert.

Jewish-American bankruptcy lawyer Friedman has expressed scepticism over the two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the basis of years of US peace efforts.

He has also advocated breaking with decades of precedent by moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv to the disputed city of Jerusalem, a prospect deeply alarming to Palestinians.

Trump vowed to move the embassy to Jerusalem during his campaign, but has since backed away, saying the move was still being looked at.

He will have to decide by the beginning of June whether to continue with the policy of his predecessors and again block the embassy's transfer.

Trump is expected to visit Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories on May 22 and 23.

TRTWorld and agencies