The appointment of attorney David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel was the first actual indication on the part of the Donald Trump administration that it does intend to support the Israeli right and the settlements. If until now there were only assessments and background noise, a smattering of statements and a certain vague ambiguity, Friedman’s appointment sends a very clear, public signal that is quite remarkable. For the first time, the United States is sending an ambassador to Israel who openly supports the settlements, personally contributes to their development, calls on Israel to increase settlement construction and suggests that Israel annex at least some of the land with settlements on it.
There are no words to describe such a sharp change in direction, or how dramatic its impact could be, if Trump does not change course and dictate a very different policy to Friedman. For Trump to do so would come as quite a surprise. As one senior State Department official told Al-Monitor on condition of anonymity, “In American terms, it's like John Lennon being replaced by Donald Rumsfeld.”