Trump's Israel Pick Makes the Rounds on Capitol Hill Ahead of Confirmation Hearing

To be confirmed David Friedman will need the support of every Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee or the support of a few Democrats.

Amir Tibon
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David Friedman arrives at a private fundraiser for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Manhattan borough of New York City, June 21, 2016.
David Friedman arrives at a private fundraiser for then-Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump in the Manhattan borough of New York City, June 21, 2016.Credit: MIKE SEGAR/REUTERS
Amir Tibon

WASHINGTON - David Friedman, the nominee to become the next U.S. ambassador to Israel, held a round of meetings with congressmen on Capitol Hill on Thursday, indicating that his confirmation hearing for the job might indeed come as early as next week, as sources with knowledge of the hearing process .

Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer who has known President Trump for years and served as his  adviser on Israel during the election campaign, met a number of senators to present his views on the U.S.-Israel relationship and other issues relating to the Jewish state. Friedman's opinions on Israel are to the right of the current Israeli government: He opposes the two-state solution, has accused former President Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department of anti-Semitism, and has suggested that Israel should revoke the citizenship rights of some of its Arab citizens. Friedman has also stated that members of the dovish Jewish advocacy group J Street are worse than kappos - Jews who assisted Nazis during the Holocaust. 

Senator Tom Cotton (R-AK,) a hawkish supporter of policies affiliated with the Israeli right-wing praised Friedman as "well-equipped to be our next ambassador to Israel" after their meeting.

In a statement, Cotton wrote that "The U.S.-Israel alliance has been strained by the past eight years. President Trump has committed to repairing this damage and making the alliance stronger than ever, and David Friedman is the right man for the job. He has deep, longstanding personal ties with Israel and its leaders, as well as a longtime friendship with President Trump. I look forward to his nomination." 

The senior senator for Arkansas, John Boozman, also expressed his support for Friedman. Boozman, who is a Republican as well, uploaded to his Twitter page a picture of himself and Friedman sitting in his office, and wrote: "Had a great conversation about US-Israeli relations with David Friedman, @POTUS's nominee to be our Ambassador to Israel." 

Cotton and Boozman, however, are not members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which will have to approve Friedman's nomination before it goes up for a vote on the Senate floor. Friedman will need to receive the support of every Republican member of the committee, or alternatively, win the support of a number of Democrats, something that some of Trump's other nominees have failed to do so far in the relevant committees voting on their nominations. 

Friedman also met with members of the Democratic Party, none of whom put out statements following their conversations with him.