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U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said Tuesday that Israel is "on the side of God," drawing criticism. (Photo: U.S. Embassy Jerusalem/Flickr/cc)

As Palestinians Mark 71st Anniversary of Mass Eviction, Trump's Ambassador to Israel Claims Country Is 'On the Side of God'

"Israel can not be the only country of the 194 countries on Earth that stands on the side of God."

Julia Conley

Further solidifying human rights advocates' fears that the Trump administration's policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is solely focused on satisfying the Israeli government, a top U.S. diplomat in the region suggested Tuesday that Israel's authority in the Middle East is God-ordained.

At an event marking the first anniversary of the U.S. embassy's move from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, U.S. Ambassdor to Israel David Friedman remarked that the relationship between the two countries is growing stronger because "Israel has one secret weapon that no other country has: Israel is on the side of God."

The comments came hours before Palestinians gathered at the Israel-Gaza border to mark a different anniversary—71 years after the Nakba when about 700,000 Palestinians were forced from their homes when Israel was established.

Friedman's remarks were met with disbelief and outrage from critics including James Zogby, president of the Arab American Institute.

Yousef Munayyer, who heads the U.S. Campaign for Palestinian Rights, argued that such a statement from a top Trump administration official undermines any hope that may still remain that the current U.S. government hopes to reach an equitable solution to the conflict.

Daniel C. Kurtzer, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel who served in the Clinton and George W. Bush administrations, said the remark would have been more suitable coming from "the far-right Orthodox Jewish community" than a government official.

"As the supposed ambassador of the United States government and all its people, it is an extremely inappropriate comment," Kurtzer told the New York Times.

The transfer of the U.S. embassy to Jerusalem last year also coincided with Nakba Day, when the Israeli military killed nearly 60 Palestinian protesters who were holding border demonstrations, as Trump administration members celebrated miles away.

In addition to moving the embassy—over the objections of the United Nations and several U.S. allies—the U.S. has also slashed Palestinian aid, putting millions at an even greater risk for malnutrition and disease than they already are due to Israel's occupation and blockade. The Trump administration also closed the Palestinian Liberation Organization in Washington, D.C. in 2018, drawing accusations of "American collusion with Israel's occupation" from the PLO.   

Saeb Erakat, the Palestinians' chief negotiator who has accused the Trump administration of destroying the possibility of a two-state solution with its vehemently pro-Israel policy, wrote that Friedman's comments represent a new extreme position in President Donald Trump's agenda.

What ambassador Friedman is telling Palestinians—Christians and Muslims," he wrote on Twitter, is "that God is against them (or that they're enemies of God). This was never an American position."

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