Trump adviser endorses Netanyahu claim of ‘ethnic cleansing’ by Palestinians


WASHINGTON (JTA) — An adviser to Donald Trump and his presidential campaign backed up Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s claim that the Palestinian demand for a removal of settlements amounts to “ethnic cleansing.”

“The prime minister of Israel correctly observes that the Palestinian demand to remove all Jews from their ancestral homeland in Judea and Samaria is nothing short of an attempt at ethnic cleansing,” David Friedman, a longtime lawyer to the Republican presidential nominee and an adviser on Israel to his campaign, told Haaretz on Sunday.

Judea and Samaria are biblical references to the West Bank.

“The State Department should be ashamed of their misguided reaction to Mr. Netanyahu’s remarks,” Friedman told the Israeli daily.

The Obama administration last week described as “inappropriate” Netanyahu’s claim that Palestinian opposition to settlements amounts to “ethnic cleansing.”

“We believe that using that type of terminology is inappropriate and unhelpful,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.

In the video posted last week to Facebook, Netanyahu likens residents of the settlements to Arabs born in Israel.