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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

Dave Lawler, author of World
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.

Why migrants are fleeing their homes for the U.S.

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios Photo: Herika Martinez /Getty Images 

Natural disasters in Central America, economic devastation, gang wars, political oppression, and a new administration are all driving the sharp rise in U.S.-Mexico border crossings — a budding crisis for President Biden.

Why it matters: Migration flows are complex and quickly politicized. Biden's policies are likely sending signals that are encouraging the surge — but that's only a small reason it's happening.

Cities' pandemic struggle to balance homelessness and public safety

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Addressing homelessness has taken on new urgency in cities across the country over the past year, as officials grapple with a growing unhoused population and the need to preserve public safety during the coronavirus pandemic.

Why it matters: It’s led to tension when cities move in to clear encampments — often for health and safety reasons — causing some to rethink the role of law enforcement when interacting with people experiencing homelessness.

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