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David Friedman Vows Trump Won’t Push Israel To Freeze Settlements

David Friedman, the new U.S. ambassador to Israel, gave his first interview since he landed in Israel on Monday to — where else? — Israel Hayom, the newspaper funded by Republican casino magnate and on-again-off-again Trump supporter Sheldon Adelson.

Friedman spoke with Israel Hayom ahead of Trump’s scheduled visit to Israel next week, now clouded by revelations that Trump gave sensitive Israeli information to Russian officials at a White House meeting, potentially risking the American-Israeli alliance.

The interview did not touch on Trump’s information sharing with the Russians, and instead focused on Trump’s upcoming visit.

Friedman said that Trump had no “specific political plan or roadmap” on Israeli-Palestinian peace and promised that Trump would not demand Israel to freeze construction in the settlements. In February, Trump told Israel that building new settlements was “unhelpful” to peace.

He said that Trump wants to see Israelis and Palestinians “sitting together without preconditions and talking, with the hope that this will lead to peace.”

“The U.S. won’t dictate how you should live together, that is something you will have to decide on your own,” he said.

Friedman, a prominent backer of settlements, said that he planned on meeting with settlers as ambassador.

Friedman’s financial support of Beit El, near Ramallah, made him a controversial pick for ambassador, and he faced opposition from liberal Jewish groups before he was narrowly approved by the Senate for the role.

Contact Naomi Zeveloff at [email protected] or on Twitter @naomizeveloff

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