Protesters disrupt Israeli ambassador's confirmation hearing

Exclusive U.N. set to defer report on companies with Israeli settlement ties

Thomas Pickering, Dan Kurtzer, Edward Walker, James Cunningham and William Harrop sent a letter to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee asking it not to confirm Friedman to become the nation's next ambassador to Israel.

New US President Donald Trump announced his decision to nominate Friedman for the job late a year ago, before he had assumed office himself. He apologized to New Hampshire's Jeanne Shaheen for offending one of her constituents whose uncle survived the Holocaust with his writings, including when he said liberal Jews "suffer a cognitive disconnect in identifying good and evil", offering to call the constituent personally.

Democratic senators also raked Friedman over the coals Thursday for calling former President Barack Obama an anti-Semite and calling Sen.

Several times during the hearing, the lawyer said peace-building could find more help from improved economic conditions in the West Bank and Gaza than political processes. "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not".

"I regret the use of such language", he said. "Trump is the President, Friedman is the nominee, and the Senate needs to let them do their jobs", CUFI Action Fund Washington Director Gary Bauer said in a statement.

He later admitted to Senator Chris Coons that "I've probably contributed to the problem".

On Wednesday Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will visit the White House.

"I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like", Trump said, adding "If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I'm happy with the one they like the best". That sends a unsafe message to an extremely volatile region about the type leadership that the United States wishes to promote in the Middle East.

Beyond words, Friedman has been a vocal financial backer of Israel's Jewish-only settlements in the occupied West Bank, and the ambassadors pointed to that fact, and remarks in which he said he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the territory, as examples that should disqualify him from the post. He'll also draw fire for previous criticism of supporters of a two-state solution, likening them to "kapos" - Jews who oversaw fellow concentration camp prisoners under the Nazis during World War II.

"I have profound differences of opinion with J Street", Friedman said, noting that he does not think that will change. "They object to his skepticism towards a two-state solution", it continues. I thought for a while that two states looked like the easier of the two. "What do we need to have them agree on?"

Asked point blank by Sen. Senator Marco Rubio took Friedman's side, vociferously, and attacked J Street, saying it smears its opponents.

We had not heard much of Mr. Friedman prior to his emergence as an adviser to then-presidential candidate Donald Trump. Friedman is no stranger to the matter, having supported and invested in Israeli settlements in the West Bank that the U.S. under the Bush and Obama administrations attempted to slow. The settlement itself is sanctioned by the government but the outpost was considered illegal because it was built on private Palestinian lands, while the rest of the settlement, which is illegal by worldwide law, is not.

Protests are nothing new in congressional meetings, but David Friedman's confirmation hearing brought out an impressive array of hecklers. Friedman said he would like to work with Israel to improve the commercial and trade environment in the West Bank for Palestinians.



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