Published: Fri, February 17, 2017
Global Media | By Garry Long

Trump pick for ambassador to Israel has tough Senate hearing

Trump pick for ambassador to Israel has tough Senate hearing

"I am unsure of how an individual with your record will or can represent all Americans to all Israelis, or whether you are committed to long-standing US policy for the two-state solution". "These were hurtful words".

Liberal Jewish groups and past USA ambassadors have spoken forcefully against the nomination of Friedman, who has been a vocal supporter of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and caused an uproar by saying the dovish Mideast policy group J Street was "far worse than kapos", referring to Jews who aided Nazis during the Holocaust.

In a financial disclosure report to the U.S. State Department, Friedman pledged to resign from his position with the Beit El fundraising arm should he be confirmed as ambassador to Israel.

"There is no excuse for my words", he said towards the beginning of the hearing. Author A.B. Yehoshua, considered an "intellectual giant" of Israel's left-wing, recently said, "I have believed in dividing the land for 50 years, and now I see that it can not happen".

"I don't think anyone would ever support [an outcome] where different classes of citizens would have different rights", Friedman said.

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.

"I'd like to see you hold back on settlements for a little bit", Trump said.

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He later admitted to Senator Chris Coons that "I've probably contributed to the problem". Marco Rubio, R-Fla., vigorously defended Friedman and rejected the notion that he needed to distance himself from passionately held beliefs.

On Wednesday, Prime Minister Netanyahu told reporters that he had asked Trump to recognize Israeli sovereignty in the Golan Heights, but did not describe the president's response. On Wednesday, Trump had backed away from the presumption of two states as the goal of peace, saying he would back whatever structure the two parties decide is best. "Mr. Friedman supports the annexation of the West Bank", he called out, while being removed by security guards.

Echoing Trump, Friedman told lawmakers that he would be "delighted" if Israel and the Palestinians could achieve a two-state solution and welcome any deal reached between the two to end their conflict. The ADL issued a statement during the hearing accepting the apology. Friedman replied that he would support either a two-state solution in which Israel was recognized as a Jewish state, or a one-state solution in which all that state's inhabitants and residents would enjoy equal civil rights. "Anybody that wants to say the United States doesn't support a two-state solution, that would be an error. We have to start thinking differently".

Asked point blank by Sen. "While I maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics, I regret the use of such language". "Because the zigs and the zags and the incoherence of the policy make it very hard to be reassuring to our allies - and our adversaries - about where the USA stands".

So far, only two diplomatic posts have been officially approved by the Senate Committee: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and UN Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Befitting a businessman lawyer under a former businessman president, Friedman pressed that Palestinians need a middle-class and more economic opportunities, emphasizing it as an area that could be improved with or without a final agreement.

"David Friedman, you promote racism, fund illegal settlements ..." The Palestinians seek both territories, captured by Israel in the 1967 Mideast war, for their hoped-for state. I can do good.

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