TEL AVIV – President Donald Trump’s pick for U.S. ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, arrived in the country to take up his position at the behest of President Reuven Rivlin, who told the new envoy that it is time for the entire world to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
The president welcomed Friedman, his wife Tammy and daughter Talia to Israel and congratulated him on his new position at an inauguration ceremony at the President’s Residence in Jerusalem on Tuesday.
“I’m happy to welcome you and your dear wife to Israel, to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, and I’m welcoming you, not only as the President of Israel, but also as a Jerusalemite – seventh generation.”
“I know you have been to Israel many times before. But this time you are an ambassador representing the United States of America, Israel’s greatest and most important ally.”
Rivlin added that Israel was looking forward to President Trump’s visit to Israel next week.
“We are looking forward to welcoming President Trump in less than a week. His visit is very important. It is a sign of the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States. We look forward to working with the new administration to find new ways and think of new ideas of how to move forward – build trust between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Rivlin continued by noting, “Next week, we will celebrate 50 years since Jerusalem was united, and the Jewish people were able to once again pray at the Western Wall. But Jewish Jerusalem is not 50 years old. Since the days of King David, this city has been our capital. It is time for the whole world to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of the State of Israel. De facto, not just de jure.”
Friedman thanked the president saying, “As a seventh generation Jerusalemite, you continue the connection to Jerusalem that began with King David some 3,000 years ago.”
He continued, “Serving the U.S. as its ambassador to the State of Israel is the greatest honor of my life, and I pledge to you to do all that I can to strengthen and enhance the relations between our two great nations – that you accurately described as unbreakable and, I would add, without limits.”
The ambassador added, “I look forward to working with you and the people of Israel to do even more to bring together the United States and Israel — in every field, from culture to education, life sciences, high technology, commerce, trade and of course military and strategic cooperation and so many other things.”
Upon landing in Israel on Monday, Friedman traveled directly to Jerusalem for afternoon prayers at the Western Wall.
“Well, it was a long trip. We’re a bit tired, but we wanted to come straight to the holiest place in the entire Jewish world, the ‘Kotel Hamaaravi,’ the Western Wall, so we came straight here,” Friedman said in a filmed statement provided by the U.S. embassy.
“I had the opportunity to say some prayers,” Friedman said.
“I prayed for the president and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip. I hope we all wish him success. We hope it’s going to be an amazing trip.”
When he was tapped for the post of envoy in December, Friedman said he looked forward to working from the embassy in Jerusalem, reflecting Trump’s campaign promise to move the embassy from Tel Aviv. In his remarks, Friedman said he aimed to “strengthen the 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.”
However, for the meantime, likely due to the sensitivity surrounding an embassy relocation, Friedman will be working out of the existing embassy in Tel Aviv.