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Trump's Israel ambassador pick has deep ties to West Bank settlements

Trump's Israel ambassador pick has deep ties to West Bank settlements”

Multiple hecklers disrupted Thursday's Senate confirmation hearing for David Friedman, President Trump's nominee to serve as USA ambassador to Israel. On Wednesday, with visiting Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at his side, Trump dropped a US commitment to a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, long a bedrock of Washington's Middle East policy, even as he urged Netanyahu to curb settlement construction.

The diplomats questioned David Friedman's "temperament", while describing him as a vocal supporter of Israeli settler communities, in an open letter to the Senate's Foreign Relations Committee.

Haaretz obtained a copy of the letter, citing former ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Dan Kurtzer, Edward Walker, James Cunningham and William Harrop as signatories.

On the Republican side, many took the time to highlight Friedman's commitment to Israel and the country's inherent difficulty in securing itself.

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. He said he wondered if Friedman would accuse former Republican President Ronald Reagan of being anti-semitic.

Friedman has also attacked the J Street organization in the past saying that its members were "worse than kapos", and said that the Anti-Defamation League were "a bunch of morons".

Friedman said he "absolutely" supports a two-state solution, but said he's skeptical such an approach can succeed because Palestinians haven't renounced terrorism and have refused to accept Israel as a Jewish state.

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President Trump has received legal advice from David Friedman in a number of bankruptcy proceedings in the past.

Multiple senators pressed Friedman over whether the USA had abandoned the two-state solution formula. Their remarks at the White House effectively abandoned what has been the foundation of USA -led peace efforts since 2002. Friedman's stated policy positions and world view suggest that he would depart from long-standing bipartisan support for the two-state solution.

In the letter, they say Friedman holds "extreme, radical positions" and thinks the two-state solution is an "illusory solution to a non-existent problem". Dozens of countries, including the USA, reaffirmed their support for a two-state accord at an worldwide conference in Paris last month, just before Trump's inauguration. Tim Kaine, D-Va., Friedman acknowledged the difficulty, if not impossibility, of a single-state approach.

He has also advocated for Israel to annex the West Bank and opposed a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. "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 said it's not his role to make policy, but he recommended efforts to create a Palestinian middle class in the Gaza Strip that is empowered with economic opportunities. Two men, minutes apart, stood and shouted pro-Palestinian slogans.

Another protester declared, as he held a Palestinian flag "We were there, we are there now, and will always be there". One blasted a "shofar", an instrument made of a ram's horn used by Jews during the High Holidays. "He is a war criminal!"



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