Senate approves David Friedman as Israel ambassador

In a rare move, almost all Democrat members of Senate voted against Friedman's nomination.

March 23, 2017 20:49
1 minute read.
David Friedman arrives at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination of to be US

David Friedman arrives at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on his nomination of to be US ambassador to Israel. (photo credit: REUTERS)

WASHINGTON – David Friedman, a longtime friend and bankruptcy lawyer of US President Donald Trump, was approved by the Senate on Thursday to serve as ambassador to Israel.

The vote saw an unprecedented partisan split over an Israel envoy: Only two Democrats, Senators Bob Menendez of New Jersey and Joe Manchin of West Virginia, joined a united Republican caucus in favor of Friedman’s nomination.

Friedman faced heavy criticism from the political Left and American Jewish organizations for his rhetoric during the 2016 presidential campaign, in which he suggested former president Barack Obama was antisemitic and called J Street, a left-wing Jewish organization which advocates for a two-state solution, “worse than kapos.” He apologized for those remarks in his Senate testimony.

J Street put out a statement after the vote saying it was “heartened” by the level of opposition Friedman faced. “Almost half of the Senate voted to oppose this deeply unqualified and inappropriate nominee, whose predecessors had all been confirmed without a single vote cast against them,” the lobby said.

Meanwhile, Christians United for Israel pushed out a laudatory statement.

“Since Friedman’s confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, CUFI continued its efforts by holding in-district meetings with key senate offices and launching additional action alerts in select states asking CUFI supporters to call the offices of specific senators during the 24 hours preceding the floor vote,” the organization said.

Israel’s Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer also congratulated Friedman after the vote. “Looking forward to working closely with you to make the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever,” he said on Twitter.

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