David Friedman heads organization that raised millions of shekels for construction in West Bank settlement of Beit El
February 8, 2017
Some 20 apartments recently approved in the West Bank settlement of Beit El are funded by an organization headed by US President Donald Trump’s nominee for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, a TV report said Wednesday.
The five-story apartment block slated for construction in the settlement near Ramallah is financed by American Friends of Bet El Institutions, which Friedman chairs.
The 20 housing units were approved at the end of January in a first wave of settlement construction to be given the green light by the Netanyahu government after Trump took office. The homes were approved as part of a High Court of Justice decision, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said in the announcement.
According to a Channel 2 News report Wednesday, the American organization raised almost NIS 2.5 million ($666,000) for its Israeli counterpart, the Organization for the Sukkat Ovadia Yeshiva of Beit El.
The Israeli organization was behind the expansion of the settlement’s Ulpana neighborhood, part of which was evacuated by Supreme Court order in 2012, and several other instances of illegal construction on private Palestinian land.
The current project is also slated to be built partly on private Palestinian land and, if it goes ahead, will be legalized ex post facto under a controversial new law passed earlier this week in the Knesset.
Friedman’s name appears on several of the buildings in the West Bank settlement funded by the American organization he heads.
In December of last year, Trump tapped Friedman to serve as the next ambassador to Israel, but the Senate Foreign Relations Committee has yet to set a date for Friedman’s confirmation hearing.
According to the left-wing Jewish lobby J Street, it may take place as soon as next week. Because of the bankruptcy lawyer’s far-right political leanings, his appointment has been opposed by dovish groups in the United States.
Also in December, one of the founders of the settlement said that Trump made a $10,000 donation to Beit El in 2003 in honor of his friend Friedman. Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner’s family has also donated tens of thousands of dollars over the years to West Bank settlements.