Former U.S. Ambassadors Urge Senate Not to Confirm Friedman as Trump's Israel Envoy

David Friedman's 'extreme positions' make him 'unqualified for the position,' former American envoys to Israel Pickering, Kurtzer, Walker, Cunningham and Harrop write Senate.

Amir Tibon
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
Amir Tibon

Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel sent a letter on Wednesday to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urging them to reject the nomination of President Trump's candidate for ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, because of what they define as his "extreme positions" and because he is "unqualified for the position."

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The letter, a copy of which has been obtained by Haaretz, is signed by former ambassadors Thomas Pickering, Dan Kurtzer, Edward Walker, James Cunningham and William Harrop - diplomats that have served under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

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The five former ambassadors stated that they "care deeply about Israel" since it is a U.S. ally and a democratic stronghold in the Middle East. Then they explain how they view the duties of the U.S. ambassador to Israel, which they said include strengthening Israel's security and advancing the prospects of peace between Israel and its neighbors. They maintain that these have been bipartisan goals of U.S. foreign policy for decades.

David Friedman, they claim, does not share this view regarding the ambassador's role. The group quoted his position that the two-state solution is "an illusory solution" and his support for settlements in the West Bank. "We urge the committee," they added, to "address the question of whether Mr. Friedman would defend as ambassador the established American view that annexation of West Bank territory, outside the context of an international resolution, would be counterproductive and a violation of international law."

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How Senate Foreign Relations Committee members are likely to vote on David Friedman's nomination.Credit: Haaretz

The former senior U.S. diplomats also mentioned Friedman's characterization of the U.S. State Department – his future boss – as anti-Semitic, and his repeated claim that supporters of the left-wing Jewish group J Street are worse than "kapos" – Jews who cooperated with Nazis during the Holocaust.

"These are extreme, radical positions," the letter says, urging the Senators to examine whether Friedman "has the balance and the temperament required to represent the United States as ambassador to Israel."

Finally, the signatories noted that Trump has recently spoken out against the construction of new settlements, saying they could hurt the peace process, and asked whether Friedman could support this kind of policy. They concluded by stating Friedman is, in their eyes, unqualified to be ambassador to Israel.

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