Trump's pick for Israeli ambassador apologizes for past rhetoric

Cheryl Sanders
February 17, 2017

David Friedman, Trump's longtime attorney and a hardline right-wing supporter of new Israeli settlements in the West Bank, previously compared liberal American Jews to Jewish Nazi collaborators, described of Anti-Defamation League leaders as "morons" and said that Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer's (D-N.Y.) internal debate over the Iran deal was "validating the worst appeasement of terrorism since Munich".

"Not enuf to simply express regret. Cruel, mean-spirited", he wrote on Twitter after an emotional exchange between Friedman and Sen.

"I'm looking at two states and one state, and I like the one both parties like", Trump told a joint news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He also noted, however, that he would not support a one-state solution if that meant pushing Palestinians off their land or depriving them of equal rights.

Five former USA ambassadors to Israel condemned President Trump's nomination for Israeli ambassador on Wednesday, voicing concerns over his views on the two-state solution. "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not".

Furthermore, Friedman said, "The only thing that makes sense now is to take small steps to try to improve circumstances on the ground and provide encouragement and assistance to Palestinians who are not pursuing a hateful agenda". He has also raised millions of dollars toward settlements, including one near the Palestinian city of Ramallah. Friedman is no stranger to the matter, having supported and invested in Israeli settlements in the West Bank that the United States under the Bush and Obama administrations attempted to slow. I think it's the path that's received the most thought and effort and consideration.

In a pre-election interview with The Algemeiner in early November, Friedman - then a senior adviser to the president-elect - said that a Trump administration would not expect Israel to uproot its citizens who now live in the West Bank and east Jerusalem as part of any future peace deal with the Palestinians. He was nominated by the president even before Trump announced his pick for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson.

Friedman, an Orthodox Jew and one-time president of the US support group for the Bet El settlement, is a longtime friend and lawyer to Trump.

On the subject of the Golan, Friedman said that the "Golan Heights is a strategic area for Israel". Friedman's ties to Beit El are just one of the reasons he could face a stormy confirmation hearing.

After Friedman's first sentence, thanking the committee for hosting him, a young man stands up, holds up a Palestinian flag, and yells that he is the grandson of a Palestinian refugee.

"My grandfather was exiled", the man said before being escorted out of the room. His appointment would push the possibility of a two-state solution further and further away, and will endanger the safety and security of both Israelis and Palestinians.

"Frankly, the language you have regularly used against those who disagree with your views has me concerned about your preparedness to enter the world of diplomacy", Ranking Democratic Sen.

Friedman called the two-state proposal the "most ideal" solution to the Middle East conflict. Senator Lindsey Graham joked that he can represent them in court and that his fees are reasonable, but "you get what you pay for".

"I believe he is the right guy at the right time".

Other reports by iNewsToday