December 19, 2016

We usually don't cover a lot of foreign news here at C&L, but this appointment of Trump's own bankruptcy attorney as Ambassador to Israel is just plain stupid.

The guy has no diplomatic experience, and published an opinion earlier this year that stands to the far right of...not making this up...hardliners in Israel themselves.

They gotta be shaking their heads around the world. What kind of IDIOT have we elected President?

Chris Cuomo reached the Ambassador to Israel from the George W. Bush administration, who, let's face it, couldn't have wished for a better way to get out of the "worst President ever" listing in future history books. Martin Indyk also served in various Middle East diplomatic capacities under Bill Clinton. And you can say what you want about him, but you can't call him lacking in Middle East diplomatic experience.


CHRIS CUOMO, CNN: So there are three basic points of pushback. The first is the experience of Friedman. Not known to have any diplomatic experience. He is a bankruptcy attorney who helped Trump with his bankruptcies in Atlantic City. His legal acumen aside what do you see in his background that gives you question?

MARTIN INDYK: Well, that's the first one. It's an important one, because the post of Ambassador to Israel is an extremely sensitive one. It's normally held by the foreign service officers who have diplomatic experience or people like me with political experience but knowledge of the issues. It's not clear that David Friedman has any of that. But on top of that he has and is a strong supporter of the Settlement Movement in Israel and is associated with the Right -- Israel which is troubling in the context of such a sensitive post. Raises questions... will he be US ambassador to all of Israel or just one part of it.

CUOMO: All right. So another question is, what you're talking about with the two-state solution. Let's put up the op-ed that Mr. Friedman wrote back in August, obviously before we assume he had any idea to believe he'd be in this position.

"The two-state solution is an illusion that serves the worst intentions of both the United States and the Palestinian Arabs. It's never been a solution only a narrative. But even the narrative itself now needs to end. "

Your take?

INDYK: (Who is to be congratulated for not fainting during the Skype call.)

Well that position is at odds, not just with -- with US policy as developed by others, George W. Bush, who is the first President to support the idea of an independent Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace. That is the heart of the two-state solution. That is the position that is endorsed by Prime Minister Netanyahu. We don't know where President-elect Trump stands on that issue. Whether he agrees with his ambassador -- but it's a real break with US policy in the past. But both Republican -- secondly and very importantly President-elect Trump has said on three occasions -- still make between Israelis and the Palestinians. Well, there's only one deal that can be made between the Israelis and the Palestinians, and that is for a two-state solution. And interim deals that lead up to that. But the reality is that's the only way in which you get a solution. To another solution is no solution at all.

CUOMO: And last quickly is Friedman says he will move the embassy, obviously he doesn't decide, but he looks forward to doing it out of the new embassy location for the US in Jerusalem. Now that's tremendous controversial territory. The Christians lay claim to Jerusalem. The Jews obviously lay claim. Even the Muslims have tried to pull out some cultural precedent for their presence there. What does that mean about wanting to move the embassy?

INDYK: Well, that is the position of the President-elect, Donald Trump, as well. It's been a position of past presidents, including president-elect. As with Bush, when they were running. But none of them are prepared to do it because it is an incendiary act. Not quite for the reasons you suggest but it is the crucible of the three -- visions. The third holiest mosque in Islam is on the top of the ruins of the Jewish temple -- temple so it's a highly contested and highly combustible issue. For that reason the United States has not been -- Israel's capital actually because Israel annexed East Jerusalem in 1967, and so moving the capital there would imply that the United States would recognize the Israeli sovereignty over all of Jerusalem, including the Arab part, and the part which has the third holiest mosque in Islam. So, it's a very provocative move in the current circumstances, and for that reason, Israeli governments have not been making an issue -- they want the United States to recognize Jerusalem as the state capital, and haven't made an issue out of it because of the danger that it could explode everything.

CUOMO: Martin Indyk, thank you very much. It is unusual to say the least that the US ambassador seems to be more hard-line on Israeli issues than Israel itself. ...

(end of transcript)

The other scary thing is, we don't know if Trump just doesn't realize that you don't give the Israeli ambassadorship to just anybody you owe a favor to, or if he owes his bankruptcy attorney so many favors that upending the Middle East peace process is just the price he has to pay to reimburse the one who got him out of trouble with certain Atlantic City interests.

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