Trump’s pick for ambassador to Israel unqualified, say 5 former envoys

Five former US ambassadors to Israel say that David Friedman, the man Trump has selected for the post, is unqualified.

Five former US ambassadors to Israel claimed Wednesday that President Donald Trump’s choice for the position is unqualified, and they are urging senators to carefully consider the nomination.

In a letter sent to members of the Foreign Relations Committee, the former diplomats said David Friedman has staked out “extreme, radical positions” and has derided the two-state solution as an “illusory” fix for a non-existent problem.

“We believe the committee should satisfy itself that Mr. Friedman has the balance and the temperament required to represent the United States as ambassador to Israel,” they wrote.

The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday for Friedman’s confirmation hearing.

The ambassadors, who served Republican and Democratic presidents, say Friedman accused President Barack Obama and the entire State Department of anti-Semitism. They say he’s also characterized supporters of J Street, an extreme left-wing Jewish group, as “kapos,” the Jews who cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust.

The State Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the letter from the former ambassadors.

The son of an Orthodox rabbi, Friedman is a fervent supporter of Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, an opponent of Palestinian statehood and staunch defender of Israel’s government.

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The former envoys wrote that Friedman has said he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex Judea and Samaria and that he has been active in supporting Israel’s presence there.

“The American ambassador must be dedicated to advancing our country’s longstanding bipartisan goals in the region: strengthening the security of the United States and our ally Israel, and advancing the prospects for peace between Israel and its neighbors, in particular the Palestinians,” the letter stated. “If Israel is to carry on as a democratic, Jewish nation, respected internationally, we see no alternative to a two-state solution.”

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However, at a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Wednesday, Trump, unlike his predecessors, did not explicitly demand a two-state solution. “I’m looking at two state and one state, and I like the one that both parties like,” he said. “I could live with either one. I thought for a while the 2 state looked like it may be the easier of the two, but honestly, if Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I’m happy with the one they like the best.”

Reacting to the meeting, Israeli government ministers celebrated what they perceived as the beginning of “a new era” with the Trump administration.

Friedman also has waded into the subject of moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, a shift that Trump endorsed during the presidential campaign. Upon being selected, Friedman said he looked forward to carrying out his duties from “the US embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem.”

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The embassy move is vehemently opposed by the Palestinians, who threatened to instigate another outbreak of violence if the move is made.

The letter opposing Friedman’s nomination was signed by Thomas Pickering, William Harrop, Edward Walker, Daniel Kurtzer and James Cunningham.

By: AP and World Israel News Staff