Senate confirms pro-settlement David Friedman as US envoy to Israel

March 24, 2017 2:32 pm


testifies on his nomination to be the ambassador to Israel before the
Senate Foreign Relations Committee on February 16, 2017 in Washington,
DC. (Photo by AFP)

The US Senate has confirmed President Donald Trump’s controversial pick to be America’s ambassador to Israel.
David
Friedman was approved in a 52-46 vote Thursday that was almost entirely
divided along party lines. All but two Senate Democrats – Robert
Menendez and Joe Manchin – voted against him.
Friedman, who once
served as Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer, is critical of the so-called
two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and supports
Israel’s illegal settlement activities on the occupied territories.
Emboldened
by the Trump administration’s support, Israel has given the go-ahead to
the construction of many new settlement units.
Over half a
million Israelis live in over 230 settlements built illegally since the
1967 occupation of the Palestinian territories.
During the 2016 presidential campaign, Friedman was Trump’s adviser on US-Israel relations.
The 58-year-old has also backed the idea of moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to East Jerusalem al-Quds.
“I
intend to work tirelessly to strengthen the unbreakable bond between
our two countries and advance the cause of peace within the region, and
look forward to doing this from the US embassy in Israel’s eternal
capital, Jerusalem,” he said in a statement following his nomination in
December.
The Palestinians want al-Quds as the capital of their
promised future state. The intent to move the US embassy there is seen
as the recognition of the city as the capital of an Israeli “state.”
Friedman,
a son of an Orthodox rabbi with no previous political experience, has
previously argued that the pursuit of a Palestinian state is a “damaging
anachronism.”
Some 600 American rabbis signed a letter last month
against Friedman’s appointment as the US ambassador, taking issue with
his incendiary rhetoric.
“An ambassador is charged with
representing our entire nation,” they wrote. “We are very concerned that
rather than try to represent the US as an advocate for peace, Mr.
Friedman will seek to mold American policy in line with his extreme
ideology.”
During his confirmation hearing in February, Friedman
apologized for his past comments and promised to be “respectful and
measured” if confirmed.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has welcomed Friedman’s nomination.

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