When Will Trump's Israel Nominee Finally Become Ambassador Friedman?

The Senate is likely to approve the nomination by early March, but a vote at the Foreign Relations Committee - which must take place before Friedman goes before the Senate - still hasn't been scheduled.

Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon
David Friedman testifies on his nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 16, 2017.
David Friedman testifies on his nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, February 16, 2017.Credit: WIN MCNAMEE/AFP
Amir Tibon
Amir Tibon

Nearly a week has passed since the Senate Foreign Relations Committee held a hearing on the nomination of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel.

Yet on Wednesday it was still not clear when the committee would reconvene to vote on President Donald Trump's choice for the job, so that the appointment could be brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

Friedman's hearing on Thursday lasted more than three hours. At its culmination, Committee chairman Senator Bob Corker (R-TN,) said he would give senators 24 hours to submit written questions to the nominee.

That period ended on Friday, and Washington then went off to a long weekend break, which ended only on Tuesday, the day after the annual Presidents' Day

The next step should be a committee vote, but there has been no mention of any meetings scheduled through next Tuesday, when the panel next meets for a hearing on the situation in Iraq.

Corker is currently visiting the Middle East on a tour focused on the war against ISIS and also looking at other regional issues. On Tuesday he was in Lebanon and earlier this week he was in Iraq.

While a regular business meeting in the committee can be ordered at short notice, it won't happen before Corker returns from the Middle East toward the weekend.

Once it reconvenes the committee can be expected to vote on Friedman's nomination, without further discussion, and then move on to other issues.

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

Friedman is expected to receive the support of all the panel's Republican members. Friedman's softening of earlier policy stances during the hearing may help him win support on the Democratic side, as well.

Friedman has been expected to win final confirmation by the early March. If he indeed passes the committee, his name will go up for a vote on the Senate floor, where a Republican majority is expected to ensure he's approved.

Opponents might be able to slow but not thwart the confirmation process, as they have done with previous Trump nominees.

Over the weekend, the Jewish Reform movement - the largest Jewish movement in North America - took the unprecedented step of announcing its opposition to Friedman's nomination.

Stephen Greenberg, leader of the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations, sounded a note of approval for Friedman by saying in Jerusalem last week that he "has all the makings" for the position.

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