US Senate Foreign Relations Committee backs David Friedman as Israel ambassador

March 9, 2017 10:56 pm

testifies on his nomination as the next ambassador to Israel before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 16, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has backed David Friedman, President ’s controversial nominee for the next US ambassador to Israel.
On Thursday, the Senate panel voted 12-9 to approve Friedman, a move that played out largely along party lines, indicating a battle that may lie ahead.
Democratic Senator Robert Menendez joined committee Republicans in backing Friedman, whose bid to serve as ambassador to Israel will now go to the full Senate.
Friedman, a fervent supporter of illegal Israeli settlements in occupied Palestine and opponent of the so-called two-state solution, served as one of Trump’s main advisers on Israel during his presidential campaign.
Democrats said Friedman’s reputation for having made a series of fiery comments underscored his unsuitability for the post.
“The region is incredibly volatile. The last thing we need in this position is somebody who has a penchant for over-the-top, hyperbolic and even false statements,” said Senator Tim Kaine.
“There will be a volatility to his holding this position that is exactly the wrong ingredient to put in this important relationship and this region of the world,” he added.
Friedman has been in touch with senators who have asked him to clarify some of his positions for his confirmation hearing.
“Some of the language that I used during the highly charged presidential campaign that ended last November has come in for criticism and rightfully so,” he said.
He further added, “While I maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics, I regret the use of such language.”
Friedman has caused controversy by saying that he plans to work at “the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”
The indication of intent to move the American embassy to East Jerusalem al-Quds is seen as a sign of the recognition of the city as the capital of an Israeli “state.”
This is while Palestinians want the West Bank, which Israel has occupied since 1967, as part of a future Palestinian state, with East al-Quds as its capital.
Friedman has also argued that the pursuit of a Palestinian state is a “damaging anachronism.”
In a potentially significant change of policy last month, President Trump suggested he would be willing to consider arrangements other than a two-state solution.
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