First Published: 2017-02-16

Trump ambassador pick sceptical of two-state solution
Trump's pick for Israeli ambassador Friedman, long-time supporter of Israeli settlement building, expresses scepticism of two-state solution in face of Palestinian ‘terrorism’.
Middle East Online

Palestinian protestors interrupted Friedman's confirmation hearing

WASHINGTON - President Donald Trump's nominee to become US ambassador to Israel expressed skepticism Thursday that a two-state peace deal would be possible given what he called Palestinian violent extremism.

David Friedman, a longstanding supporter of Israeli causes, was facing a Senate confirmation hearing a day after Trump backed away from America's long-standing support of a two-state solution.

Echoing Trump, Friedman told lawmakers that he would welcome any deal reached between Israel and the Palestinians to end their conflict, but admitted he doubted the latter's commitment to peace.

"I would be delighted to see peace come to this region where people have suffered on both sides for so long," he said, facing questions after pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted his opening remarks.

"I have expressed my skepticism about the two-state solution solely on the basis of what I have perceived as unwillingness to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state."

Friedman, a 58-year-old Jewish American bankruptcy lawyer who has worked for Trump's property empire, was a controversial choice to represent the United States in Israel.

He is a longstanding supporter of Israel's push to build Jewish settlements in east Jerusalem and on the West Bank on land that Palestinians would claim as theirs in any future peace deal.

On accepting Trump's nomination Friedman said he hoped to work from "the US embassy in Israel's eternal capital, Jerusalem."

The current US embassy is in Tel Aviv, previous presidents having decided not to court Palestinian anger and disrupt peace efforts by endorsing Israel's claim on the holy city as its undivided capital.

Addressing concerns that his views make him a provocative choice for ambassador, Friedman insisted that he would be "delighted" if Israel and the Palestinians could come to a two-state peace deal.

He said that the groundwork for such an accord was reached at the 1993 Oslo talks between Israel's then prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and the late Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat.

But he argued that, since then, Palestinian violence against Israel has only increased.

"One of the primary commitments was chairman Arafat's commitment to begin to educate his people to stop hatred," he said.

"We haven't made progress since then, and terrorism has increased four-fold since before Oslo."

If Friedman's nomination is cleared by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, his appointment will be put to the full chamber at a later date, in what is expected to be a close vote.

 

US, Iranian top diplomats confront each other for first time

Moscow accuses US of hitting Syrian regime forces

Turkey, Iran and Iraq make joint threat against Kurd vote

Thousands of Huthi supporters mark 3 years since Sanaa takeover

Gemstone purchase essential for Najaf pilgrims

UN sets up probe of IS war crimes in Iraq

Air strikes kill 22 civilians in northwest Syria in 48 hours

Iranian supreme leader lashes out at Trump UN speech

Iraq attacks all remaining IS territory at once

Turkey jails lawyers representing hunger striking teachers

Syrian Kurds to hold first local elections in federal push

Qatari expats lauded as statesmen by Arab critics

Shipwreck off Libyan coast leaves over 100 migrants missing

Will Turkey’s opposition to Kurdish state translate into action?

US ups the ante on Iraq Kurds

Macron: Iran nuclear deal no longer enough

Trump’s mind made up on Iran but refuses to divulge

Scores of Iraqis missing during war against ISIS

Netanyahu rejects calls for mixed gender worship at Western Wall

Russia accuses US of missile treaty breach

Iran TV translator mocked for watering down Trump speech

Saudi Arabia hopes Kurdish referendum will not take place

Saudi invites women to sports stadium for first time

Saudi set to create $2.7 billion investment company

Humanitarian disaster grips Yemen three years since Houthi takeover

What will become of Iraq’s Hawija after ISIS?

Multi-ethnic Kirkuk tense ahead of referendum

UN awaits Iran’s defence against Trump nuclear deal threats

US-backed SDF seizes 90% of Syria's Raqa

Man hanged in Iran for rape, murder of child

Saudi to lift ban on internet phone calls

Sisi calls for peace, co-existence in Mideast

Erdogan demands Iraqi Kurds call off referendum

US looking to revisit Iran nuclear deal

Trump expects Gulf dispute to be resolved quickly

Bashir calls on Darfur displaced to return

Saudi Aramco could release accounts in early 2018

Saudi-led coalition says rebels hindering Yemen food imports

Jihadist activity prompts regime, Russian air strikes in Syria safe zone

Two prominent rights activists arrested in Saudi Arabia

Israel shoots down Hezbollah drone over Golan Heights

Iraqi forces launch assault on IS in western Anbar province

Families of the missing, the forgotten victims of war in Lebanon

25 killed in South Sudan clashes

Suicide attack on Iraq restaurant kills three