U.S. officials reinforce Trump support for two-state solution


The letter calls on either the president to withdraw the nomination or the Senate to reject Friedman's bid if Trump is unwilling to take such an action. Friedman is Trump's longtime lawyer and was a key surrogate to the Jewish community during the campaign. In the past, he has criticized liberal Jewish groups, and for that, he had to apologize today. NPR's Michele Kelemen reports. Those remarks include a description of J Street supporters as "kapos", and leaders of the Anti-Defamation League as "morons". They also shook groggers, traditional Jewish noisemakers that are used to symbolically drown out the names of people who seek the destruction of Jews.

Sen. Benjamin L. Cardin of Maryland, ranking Democrat on the committee, said he was especially distraught over Friedman's characterization of Sen.

DAVID FRIEDMAN: There is no excuse. "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not". "These were hurtful words and I deeply regret them". They're not reflective of my nature or my character. "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not", Friedman said in response to questioning from ranking member Ben Cardin.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Singing) We will fill this world with love.

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KELEMEN: They say they oppose the Israeli military occupation of the Palestinian territories and called Friedman a racist who funds illegal settlements.

"My grandfather was exiled", the man said before being escorted out of the room.

Pro-Palestinian protesters disrupted a hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Thursday to declare US President Trump's pick David Friedman as the new US Ambassador to Israel. During a joint news conference on Wednesday, Trump said he would be open to a Mideast peace agreement that doesn't include separate states for Israel and the Palestinians, abandoning a USA position that has underpinned more than a decade of failed negotiations between the two sides.

In a letter sent to members of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, the former diplomats said that Friedman has staked out "extreme, radical positions" and has derided the two-state solution as an "illusory" fix for a non-existent problem. Five former USA ambassadors to Israel signed an open letter condemning his nomination, warning of his "extreme positions".

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Sen. Tom Udall, D-N.M., called Friedman "profoundly unfit" to serve based on his history of "offensive, inflammatory and insulting rhetoric".

TOM UDALL: If we confirm him, we are running a risky risk that Mr. Friedman will inflame a volatile situation and inflame other foreign governments in the region. We need a steady hand in the Middle East, not a bomb thrower in a position of high power and responsibility.

During his confirmation hearings on Capitol Hill, Massachusetts Senator Ed Markey asked the nominees for the Israeli Ambassadorship what he sees as an alternative solution to the conflict.

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) acknowledged that Friedman has said things he did not agree with but said he backed the nominee as qualified, experienced and passionate.

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Democrats indeed directed their focus on Friedman's firebrand rhetoric, including describing Bill Clinton as "more unsafe to the interests of Israel than any president since Eisenhower" and arguing the Obama administration was more interested in fighting Republicans than terrorists.