David Rosenberg, 16/05/17 11:46 | updated: 12:48
Watch: US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman presents credentials to Israeli president, formally begins service in Israel
US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman met with Israeli President Reuven Rivlin Tuesday morning, a day after arriving in Israel to begin his service as ambassador.
President Rivlin received Friedman’s credentials, marking the formal beginning of Friedman’s ambassadorship to the Jewish state.
Two other new ambassadors, representing Spain and Thailand, were also received by the president on Tuesday.
The Israeli president welcomed Friedman, his family, and staff to Israel and congratulated him on his new position.
“I’m happy to welcome you and your dear wife to Israel, to Jerusalem, the capital city of Israel, and I’m welcoming you, not only as the President of Israel, but also as a Jerusalemite – seventh generation.”
“I know you have been to Israel many times before. But this time you are an ambassador representing the United States of America, Israel’s greatest and most important ally.”
Rivlin added that Israel was looking forward to President Trump’s visit to Israel next week, calling it an important “sign of the unbreakable bond” between the two countries.
“We are looking forward to welcoming President Trump in less than a week. His visit is very important. It is a sign of the unbreakable bond between Israel and the United States. We look forward to working with the new administration to find new ways and think of new ideas of how to move forward – build trust between Israelis and Palestinians.”
Ambassador Friedman begins his term at the US Embassy’s present location in Tel Aviv. While President Trump had pledged to relocate the embassy to Jerusalem, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Sunday that the president was carefully weighing his decision, and would decide based on the move’s likely impact on future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
President Rivlin closed his remarks at the gathering for Ambassador Friedman with a call for recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital – a veiled reference to deliberations on the issue inside the White House.
“Next week… we will celebrate 50 years since Jerusalem was united and Jews were able to once again pray at the Western Wall. But Jewish Jerusalem isn’t 50 years old. Since the days of King David, this city has been our capital.”
“It is time for the whole world to recognize Jerusalem as the official capital of the State of Israel.”
Friedman traveled to the Western Wall in Jerusalem on Monday his first stop after arriving in Israel.
“It was a long trip,” Friedman told reporters after he had said his prayers. “But we wanted to come straight to the holiest place in the entire Jewish world…straight from the airport.”
“I prayed for the health of my family, my children, my grandchildren. I prayed for the President and I wished him success, especially on his upcoming trip. I hope we all wish him success.
President Trump is slated to arrive Israel next Monday for two-day, one-night visit, part of a three-state tour which will include Saudi Arabia and the Vatican.