David Friedman, U.S. President Donald Trump's nominee for the post of ambassador to Israel, will have his first confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee this Thursday.
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Friedman will face questions from members of the committee a day after the first official meeting between Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
A bankruptcy lawyer and Trump's personal counsel for 15 years, Friedman has no experience in diplomacy. He is a staunch supporter of the settlement movement and rejects the notion of an independent Palestinian state.
He heads American Friends of Beit El Institutions, an organization that helped fund illegal building projects in the West Bank settlement of Beit El.
Trump's nominee held a round of meetings on Capitol Hill last week, speaking to members of both parties, and not limiting himself to members of the committee who will need to approve his nomination before it goes up for a Senate vote. Following the meetings, two senators – Tom Cotton ans Jon Boozman, both Republicans from Arkansas – put out short statements praising Friedman.
Friedman’s attacks on leading Jewish organizations have also caused alarm. He referred to members of J Street, a pro-peace, anti-occupation group, as “worse than kapos” – a reference to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis. He also called the Anti-Defamation League a “bunch of morons.”
The February 16 hearing will begin at 10 A.M. Washington time and will be presided over by the committee's chairman, Republican Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. For Friedman’s appointment to be blocked by the committee, all of its Democrats and at least one Republican would have to vote against it.