Incoming US ambassador David Friedman has announced that he will not reside in the official ambassador’s residence in Herziliya upon assuming office. Instead, he will live in the large apartment he owns in the Talbiyeh section of Jerusalem.
It is unclear whether the decision is intended to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign promise to move the American embassy to Jerusalem. Palestinian officials have threatened to declare the Israel-Palestinian peace process “dead” should the new administration carry through on the promise, and several sources close to the president have said in recent weeks that Friedman may “fulfill” the promise by maintaining the ambassador’s office in the capital but leaving the rest of the diplomatic staff at the embassy compound on Yarkon Street in Tel Aviv.
Media reports indicated that Friedman will take up the role as ambassador in February, but he has yet to be confirmed by the Senate. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and pro-settlement groups in Israel and the United States welcomed the nomination thanks to Friedman’s oft-stated support for right-wing Jewish causes in Israel, but liberal groups in both countries have pressed Democratic and Republican senators to oppose the nomination for the same reason.
In order to block the nomination, all Senate Democrats and at least three Republicans would have to vote against confirmation.