Israel, despite being the homeland of the tightly-knit Jewish people, is not immune to civil war. It's happened before in the nation's history.
And top American officials apparently fear it could happen again.
Israel's Channel 10 News reported on Tuesday that US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman had stated in private remarks his concern that forcing the Jewish state to evacuate settlers from the biblical heartland of Judea and Samaria could lead to deadly internal conflict.
On the sidelines of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations, Friedman came down hard on the Palestinian Authority as the primary obstacle to peace, but also reportedly said of Israel:
"The command echelon in the IDF is going more and more to the national religious [sector]. These are people who feel duty-bound to this land as land given to them by God. The expulsion of hundreds of thousands of settlers could lead to a civil war in Israel."
Ongoing Palestinian intransigence and the potential for a catastrophic rift in Israeli society has, in Friedman's estimation, led the Trump Administration to be more "realistic" about the peace process. "We do not want to raise expectations about the chances of reaching a peace agreement too much," he was quoted as saying.
The US Embassy in Israel later issued a statement that didn't deny Friedman had made those remarks, but did call out the sources for failing to provide full context:
"The Channel 10 report is based upon three attendees at the conference who failed to provide much of the context behind Ambassador Friedman’s comments as well as significant additional and related remarks by the Ambassador."
Of course, civil war in any context is a bad thing. And the fact that Washington believes it to be a real possibility is frightening, but also echoes warnings of many experts in Israel itself.