The Trump administration doesn't mind breaking with tradition -- and this past Tuesday, America's ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, notched another first for the president. In another departure from his predecessors, Trump's diplomat had violated tradition by visiting the Samarian city of Ariel for a business event. Under past presidents, the U.S. ambassadors to Israel have had an unwritten agreement not to cross the pre-1967 borders.
Ambassador Friedman shares Trump's view that it's time to "normalize" activities in the area "and promote dialogue between the people of Israel and the Palestinian Authority." As Breitbart points out, this isn't the first time Friedman has visited the area, but it is the first time he's attended a conference about joint economic ventures in the West Bank. He believes, like so many Americans, in the importance of religious and political freedom for everyone. President Trump would like for both to extend to the West Bank and Gaza, but there are a lot of obstacles to overcome first.
Friedman didn't exactly beat around the bush about that in his tweet after the event. "At the invitation of the Judea and Samaria Chamber of Commerce, I met in Ariel with Palestinian & Israeli business leaders ready, willing & able to advance joint opportunity & peaceful coexistence. People want peace & we are ready to help! Is the Palestinian leadership listening?"
This is not an effort to provoke -- it's an effort to promote conversation. Back in 2011, I joined the first congressional delegation to that same area in Ariel. Now, seven years later, under President Trump, our diplomats are making history. Last year, FRC took our entire tour to Ariel to see firsthand what the media refers to as a "settlement" in the West Bank. This is a thriving city with a university, performing arts center, and an industrial park where Palestinians work alongside Israelis. This is yet another example of the Trump administration refusing to be bound by the failed foreign policy of the past.
For more on the diplomatic successes of this administration, don't miss my op-ed on the release of Pastor Andrew Brunson in today's Washington Times, "Trump's Foreign Policy Reset," along with Travis Weber's "Six Lessons from Pastor Brunson's Ordeal in Turkey" in the Stream.