Senate Committee Likely to Approve Friedman as Israel Envoy on Thursday

Progressive Jewish organizations have been actively lobbying Senators to vote against David Friedman's confirmation.

David Friedman takes a break from his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in Washington, February 16, 2017.
Susan Walsh/AP

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will vote on Thursday on the confirmation of David Friedman as U.S. ambassador to Israel. On the assumption that he is approved, which is considered likely, the full Senate will be asked to vote on the nomination very soon thereafter, possibly even later that day.

The vote is scheduled for 10:30 A.M.

Progressive Jewish organizations have been actively lobbying members of the Senate to vote against Friedman’s confirmation. Friedman, who serves as president of an organization that fundraises for a radical West Bank settlement, is considered a highly controversial candidate because of his positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which mark a sharp departure from longstanding U.S. policy, and his vicious attacks against respected Jewish-American organizations.

All the Democrats in the Senate, as well as three Republicans, would have to vote against him for the appointment to be blocked. Thus far, the leading Senate Democrat, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, has yet to express his position on Friedman’s appointment.

Friedman has in the past rejected the notion of a two-state solution. At the Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearings held several weeks ago, he said he had changed his mind. He also expressed regret for his earlier attacks against his ideological opponents.

A bankruptcy lawyer with no diplomatic experience, Friedman has likened members of J Street, the pro-Israel anti-occupation group, to “kapos” – a reference to Jews who collaborated with the Nazis during the Holocaust. He has called leaders of the Anti-Defamation League “morons” and accused former President Barack Obama of anti-Semitism.

This week, several progressive organizations, led by J Street, presented members of the Senate with a petition signed by 40,000 individuals opposed to Friedman’s appointment.

The ambassador-designate, who worked for President Donald Trump for 15 years, served as one of his Israel advisers during the election campaign.