Trump's pick for Israel ambassador regrets inflammatory talk

Posted February 17, 2017

"Today's hearing in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the nomination of David Friedman to be the next US Ambassador to Israel was, as Senator Menendez suggested, an attempt at 'nomination conversion.' Regardless of today's farcical performance, Friedman's record speaks for itself".

He called the liberal Middle East policy group J Street "kapos" and the Anti-Defamation League "morons". "I hope people can take comfort in the fact that [Trump is] taking advice from me", Friedman said previous year in an interview with Arutz Sheva.

Friedman's views on the Israeli-Palestinian issue are extreme: he categorically opposes Palestinian human and national rights, he fervently identifies with and funds Israel's illegal settlement drive in the Palestinian West Bank, and he viciously demonizes those who disagree with his fundamentalist worldview.

"I'm having difficulty understand whether you really can be a diplomat", said Sen.

The hearing came a day after Trump refused to endorse explicitly a two-state solution, a break from US foreign policy since 2002.

The letter calls on either the president to withdraw the nomination or the Senate to reject Friedman's bid if Trump is unwilling to take such an action.

An EU-funded poll of 1200 people on Thursday found that 55 percent of Israelis and 44 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution to the on-going occupation of Palestinian lands.

J Street has aggressively campaigned against Friedman's nomination.

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In his opening remarks, Friedman said his attacks were "partisan rhetoric" during a heated presidential election campaign. The champions of democracy are using all means at their disposal to block key appointments and filibuster proceedings to ratify President Trump's selections for key posts.

In fact, however, many politicians and thinkers on both sides of the Israeli spectrum have declared the two-state plan unworkable.

"President Reagan said that settlement activity was 'in no way necessary for the security of Israel, '" Udall said.

Haley, a Republican who previously served as SC governor, also criticized the United Nations and the Security Council on Thursday for what she called a bias against Israel. "Anybody that wants to say the United States does not support the two-state solution - that would be an error", Haley told reporters at the United Nations.

Friedman is also a proponent of moving the American embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, and has expressed his desire to work out of Jerusalem in his function as US Ambassador - irrespective of where the US embassy ends up being located.

Such views are unprecedented for US ambassadors to Israel, who in the past, whether from Republican or Democratic administrations, have avoided travel to settlements.

"We believe him to be unqualified for the position", wrote the former ambassadors including Thomas Pickering, Edward Walker, Daniel Kurtzer, James Cunningham and William Harrop.

Friedman, the son of an Orthodox rabbi, enjoys the support of far-right pro-Israel groups such as the Zionist Organization of America and Christians United for Israel.