Trump's ambassador pick is well-known figure in West Bank

Trump's ambassador pick is well-known figure in West Bank

Cheryl Sanders
February 17, 2017

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced on Saturday that it is moving ahead with a hearing for the nomination of US bankruptcy attorney and staunch Israel-supporter David Friedman to the post of US Ambassador to Israel.

Cardin also pressed Friedman about past statements that appeared to oppose a two-state solution addressing the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and noted his backing for settlements, including some deep inside the West Bank. If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not.

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. "Mr. Friedman supports the annexation of the West Bank", he called out, while being removed by security guards.

But Mr. Friedman, we quickly learned, was not a quiet, retiring, low-key kind of a fellow. Prior to the hearing five former USA ambassadors to Israel strongly urged the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in a letter to reject Friedman, calling him "unqualified" and "extreme" in his positions. He said that his apologies to Senator Al Franken and to the head of the Anti Defamation League, for calling them "morons", were accepted by them; while former Senator Joe Lieberman said he had slept at Friedman's house and he's a great guy.

Asked about moving the embassy Friedman replied only that "the decision will be made by the President and I will support his decision".

"I urge the majority in Senate to discuss Friedman's appointment again and think about moving in a different direction", he added. Senator Marco Rubio took Friedman's side, vociferously, and attacked J Street, saying it smears its opponents.

Other groups including Christians United for Israel and the Republican Jewish Coalition are rallying in support of Friedman using digital and print advertisements.

"It is inconceivable there could be a mass evacuation on that magnitude, in the unlikely event that there was an otherwise comprehensive peace agreement", Friedman said.

Friedman told the committee he's skeptical a two-state solution can succeed because Palestinians haven't renounced terrorism and have refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

David Friedman, a NY bankruptcy attorney with no prior diplomatic experience, said he "regret [s]" comments he made during "the highly charged presidential campaign" - he once accused the State Department of "anti-Semitism" - and vowed he'll be "respectful and measured" if confirmed as ambassador.

As J Street says in its anti-Friedman campaign, "Friedman is a friend of the settlement movement who backs unlimited settlement expansion" in Judea and Samaria.

"The New York Times editorial board, meanwhile, predicted the confirmation of Friedman would 'provoke conflict in Israel" and "undermine American leadership" in the Middle East.

The one-time lawyer to Trump was pressed about his public skepticism toward a two-state solution, in the context of remarks made by the president in his joint press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

"Based on the comments yesterday, we can't say for sure if the U.S. supports the two-state solution", Ben-Avi continued."The clean-up of that is all well and good but who knows what he's going to say tomorrow".

Other reports by iNewsToday