Pro-settlement hardliner Friedman confirmed as US envoy to Israel

The US Senate has confirmed right-winger David Friedman as America’s next ambassador to Israel.

He was approved in a 52-46 vote in the Republican-run chamber, despite opposition from the Democrats.

Mr Friedman, who was once Donald Trump’s bankruptcy lawyer, is critical of the US goal of a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

He also supports Jewish settlements in the occupied West Bank, and has backed moving the US embassy to Jerusalem.

The UN does not recognise Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, and the US embassy has been located in Tel Aviv for decades.

The Palestinians want East Jerusalem as the capital of their promised future state – but Israel claims the entire city as its undivided capital.

During his confirmation hearing in February Mr Friedman, who was nominated by President Trump, apologised to lawmakers for his past harsh language and pledged to be “respectful and measured” if confirmed.

The 58-year-old advised Mr Trump on US-Israel issues during the election campaign.

J Street, the Washington-based pro-Israel Jewish group, opposed his nomination, saying he “lacks any diplomatic or policy credentials”.

But America’s conservative Jewish organisations backed Mr Friedman.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who did not have warm relations with President Barack Obama, welcomed Mr Friedman’s nomination.

David Friedman

  • Bankruptcy attorney who has represented Mr Trump in connection with his investment in Atlantic City casinos
  • Grew up in Woodmere, New York; graduate of Columbia College and New York University Law School
  • Supporter of Jewish settlement in the Israeli occupied West Bank (which he refers to as Judea and Samaria); President of American Friends of Beit El Institutions – which raises money for the settlement Beit El
  • A fluent speaker of Hebrew, whose Bar Mitzvah was held in Jerusalem at the Western Wall, Mr Friedman owns a residence in Jerusalem and says he has probably visited the “Holy Land” more than 100 times
  • Has strongly criticised a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as a “illusion”, accusing the Palestinian leadership of corruption and saying Palestinians do not care whether they are ruled by Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas or Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Has suggested Israel could annex the predominantly Arab-populated West Bank while retaining its Jewish character

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