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David Friedman. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman said in an interview with an Emirati website that a Biden victory in the November presidential election will lead to a shift in U.S. policy toward Iran that will be bad for Israel and the Gulf countries.

Why it matters: Friedman is a political appointee who is very close to President Trump after serving as his lawyer for many years. In the 2016 campaign, Friedman was leading the Trump campaign in Israel and in the U.S. Jewish community. Still, it's very unusual for a U.S. ambassador to weigh in on U.S. domestic politics during an election campaign. 

What he's saying:

  • Friedman argued in a short video published on Twitter by al-Ain that U.S. policy toward Iran “is the most consequential issue of the election.” He said Biden was part of the Obama administration that negotiated and implemented the Iran nuclear deal, which “President Trump thinks was the worst deal the U.S. has ever entered into. It created a path for Iran to get a nuclear weapon."
  • Friedman added: “We are in a very good place with the sanctions on Iran, and we think if we continue down this path, Iran will have no choice but to end its malign activity. We worked really hard to get Iran to a much better place. I would hate to think a new administration would undermine that but, regrettably, if Biden wins, I guess they might."
  • In another quote that appeared on the al-Ain website, Friedman said: “If Biden wins, we will see a policy shift that in my personal opinion will be wrong and will be bad for the region, including for Israel, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait."

On Friday, another interview with Friedman was published in the hardline right-wing Makor Rishon newspaper, which is affiliated with the settler movement. Friedman attacked Biden for his record on Israel while he was vice president, including Biden's 2010 condemnation of plans to build new settlements in East Jerusalem.

Go deeper

Jan 12, 2021 - World

Trump administration launches foreign policy blitz in final days

Pompeo leaves the stage. Photo: Jacquelyn Martin/AFP via Getty

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared Yemen's Houthi rebels a terror group, labeled Cuba a state sponsor of terrorism and risked provoking China by lifting restrictions on interactions between U.S. and Taiwanese officials — all within 48 hours, and with less than two weeks left in President Trump's term.

Why it matters: The administration, and in particular Pompeo, has made little secret of the fact that it's trying to tie President-elect Biden's hands, in particular when it comes to Trump's hardline policies on Iran and China.

5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Sources say Beto plans Texas comeback in governor’s race

Former U.S. Rep. Beto O'Rourke speaks during the Georgetown to Austin March for Democracy rally on July 31, 2021, in Austin, Texas. Photo: Brandon Bell/Getty Images

Former Rep. Beto O’Rourke is preparing to run for governor of Texas in 2022, with an announcement expected later this year, Texas political operatives tell Axios.

Why it matters: O'Rourke's entry would give Democrats a high-profile candidate with a national fundraising network to challenge Republican Gov. Greg Abbott — and give O’Rourke, a former three-term congressman from El Paso and 2020 presidential candidate and voting rights activist, a path to a political comeback.

Texas doctor says he performed an abortion in violation of state law

Pro-choice protesters march down Congress Avenue and back to the Texas state capitol in Austin, Texas, in July 2021. Photo: Erich Schlegel/Getty Images

A Texas doctor disclosed in an op-ed in the Washington Post on Saturday that he has performed an abortion in violation of the state's restrictive new abortion law, which effectively bans the procedure after six weeks.

Why it matters: Alan Braid's op-ed is a direct disclosure that will very likely result in legal action, thereby setting it up as a potential test case for how the abortion ban will be litigated, notes the New York Times.

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