By BB Portnoy
The next American ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, might work from an office in Yerushalayim while the US embassy will remain in Tel Aviv, Channel 2 reported on Tuesday, citing senior Israeli Foreign Ministry officials.
In this scenario, the report said, Friedman would be based at the US Consulate General building in the Israeli capital’s East Talpiot neighborhood with a small staff, while the seafront embassy in Tel Aviv would stay open, with most operations being run from there.
Friedman, the report noted, already owns three apartments in Jerusalem’s Talbieh neighborhood.
Outgoing American envoy to Israel Dan Shapiro has lived at a US government-owned residence in Herzliya, just north of Tel Aviv.
President-elect Donald Trump, according to the report, would view Friedman working out of Yerushalayim as a fulfillment of his campaign promise to move the embassy.
The report further noted that — according to an Israeli official — Trump’s son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner was among those talking about the idea of moving the ambassador, but not the embassy, to Jerusalem.
However, CNN reported earlier on Tuesday that Trump’s transition team has informed US allies that the embassy will be relocated to Jerusalem, something which European diplomats quoted by CNN expressed concern about.
When he was chosen for the ambassador position last month, Friedman said, “I am deeply honored and humbled by the confidence placed in me by President-elect Trump to represent the United States as its ambassador to Israel. I intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
Last week, as reported by The Algemeiner, former Israeli National Security Advisor Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yaakov Amidror said the embassy location decision was Trump’s, not Israel’s, to make, “but for us it’s very important.”
Concerns that have been voiced about a potential violent Arab backlash to a relocation of the embassy have been “exaggerated,” Amidror went on to say.
Among the Palestinians, Amidror noted, “There would be some reaction, but it would be contained…It is not in the interest of [Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas] to have demonstrations which might go out of control. He knows that he can survive only because of the help he gets from Israel. If it was only him, he would not survive. In the Arab world, there would be a big difference between the reaction of leaders, who don’t care, and maybe some demonstrations in the streets.”
Any such protests, Amidror predicted, would “be very minor.”
“But at the end of the day,” he continued, “we think that the reaction of extremists in the Middle East should not be a factor in the decision.”
© 2016 The Algemeiner Journal