Trump's Israel envoy 'unqualified', say five former ambassadors
Feb 17 2017
David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer whose support for Israeli settlements and opposition to a two-state solution run counter to previous US positions, will be the first of Trump's ambassadorial nominees to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he heads to Capitol Hill on Thursday.
But Friedman doesn't specify in his prepared testimony which remarks he's apologizing for.
J Street states that Mr. Friedman is "hostile" to the two-state solution, which it terms the "only way to ensure Israel's future as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people". "This is something I really want to do because I think I can do it well". "I hope people can take comfort in the fact that [Trump is] taking advice from me", Friedman said a year ago in an interview with Arutz Sheva.
Several senators expressed concern about the increasing breakdown of the once bipartisan support for Israel, a condition to which Friedman said he'd likely contributed.
Friedman's confirmation hearing was dominated by questions over his derogatory and inflammatory comments about Jewish figures and organizations leveled over the course of the campaign, including incidents in which he called Jewish critics "morons" and "kapos".
He later admitted to Senator Chris Coons that "I've probably contributed to the problem".
Additionally, other demonstrators called Friedman a war criminal, claiming his support of expansion of settlements in the West Bank harms the lives of Palestinians.
Top officials in the Trump administration sought to reassure lawmakers and foreign allies on Thursday that the United States remains committed to a two-state solution between Israel and the Palestinians, just one day after their boss said that "one state" endorsed by both parties would work just as well for him. I thought for a while that two states looked like the easier of the two. Friedman rejected that notion - but he didn't rule out entirely that the end result of the peace process might not be two states.
While Friedman, 58, will likely be approved by the Republican-led Senate, he'll face tough questions over Trump's position on a two-state solution for the conflict and his proposal to move the USA embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a shift opposed by Arab allies who say it will kill prospects for peace. "Ambassadors are civil servants - they fulfill what the president tells them to do".
So far, only two diplomatic posts have been officially approved by the Senate Committee: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley. "We have to start thinking differently". "What do we need to have them agree on?" "It makes sense to tread very carefully there", Friedman said, echoing words used by Trump.
He serves as president of American Friends of Bet El Institutions, an organization that supports a large West Bank settlement just outside Ramallah.
But the president also said Israel should "hold back on settlements for a little bit" in areas Palestinians believe should be part of their territory in any peace deal. "I hope there's a new generation of Palestinians that wants what everyone wants, a better life for themselves and their children", he said, saying the USA should help foster that and draw out that nascent leadership.