Donald Trump's campaign aide lends support to Netanyahu over his Palestinian 'ethnic cleansing' comments

David Friedman says Obama administration 'should be ashamed' of its criticsm of Israeli PM who had said Palestianians want a state with 'no Jews'

Caroline Mortimer
Tuesday 13 September 2016 09:50 BST
Netanyahu accuses Palestinians of ethnic cleansing

Donald Trump’s US-Israeli relations adviser has voiced his support for controversial comments by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that Palestinians were advocating for the “ethnic cleansing of Jews” from the West Bank.

David Friedman said the Obama administration “should be ashamed of their misguided reaction” to a statement on Facebook by Mr Netanyahu which claimed the Palestinian leadership want a Palestinian state with no Jews in it.

In the video message Mr Netanyahu said: “The Palestinian leadership actually demands a Palestinian state with one pre-condition: No Jews.

“There's a phrase for that: It's called ethnic cleansing. And this demand is outrageous.”

He claimed that Israel’s “diversity” showed its “openness and readiness for peace”.

After seeing the clip, the US State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau condemned the use of “that type of terminology” was “inappropriate and unhelpful”.

She said: “We obviously strongly disagree with the characterisation that those who oppose settlement activity or view it as an obstacle to peace are somehow calling for ethnic cleansing of Jews from the West Bank.

“We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful.”

She also said the policy of resettling Jewish Israelis in the West Bank raised “real questions about Israel’s long-term intentions in the West Bank”.

But Mr Friedman leapt to to Mr Netanyahu’s defence in an email exchange with Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

He claimed Ms Trudeau’s position was “entirely racist and anti-Semitic”.

He said: “Prime Minister Netanyahu makes exactly the right point.

“The Palestinians want Israel to absorb countless 'refugees' - people who never lived in Israel and whose ancestors were never forced to leave Israel - while their so-called 'state' is required to be, as the Nazis said, Judenrein (devoid of Jews)”.

The former lawyer claimed Palestinians living in Israel “enjoy the strongest human and civil rights in the region” and said “there is no better place for Arabs to live in the Middle East than Israel”.

Donald Trump's campaign aide claims Netanyahu is correct and Israel is the "best place in the Middle East" for Arabs to live (Reuters)
Donald Trump's campaign aide claims Netanyahu is correct and Israel is the "best place in the Middle East" for Arabs to live (Reuters) (REUTERS)

Last week, after Israel approved the building of 284 new housing units in West Bank settlements, the United States said the policies could expand settlements in a "potentially unlimited way."

US officials said the criticism from the US State Department marked the first time it has suggested in public that Israel may be moving towards unlimited settlement expansion on land the Palestinians seek for their state.

Last week, Mr Netanyahu and Palestinian Territories President Mahmoud Abbas agreed in principle to met to resume peace talks were abandoned in 2014 but have not set a firm date.

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