President Donald Trump’s choice for the role of US Ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, was sworn in by a narrow margin yesterday.
Friedman, who is an extremely controversial figure, officially became the United States’ ambassador to Israel after taking the oath of office in front of Vice President Mike Pence, despite complaints from Democrats that Friedman lacked the temperament for such a top-flight diplomatic post.
The former bankruptcy lawyer is well-known for making incendiary remarks and holding contentious views that are at odds with longstanding US policy on Israeli and Palestine; he called former US President Barack Obama an anti-Semite and described Liberal Jews as Nazi collaborators.
Friedman’s caustic comments will be less of a concern than his hard-line positions, which are aligned with the Israeli right-wing: he is a fervent supporter of Israeli settlements and an opponent of Palestinian statehood.
Friedman was narrowly confirmed by the US Senate by a vote of 52-46. The level of opposition is said to be highly unusual for a nominee for US ambassador to Israel, a close ally of the United States. For decades, nominees from both Democratic and Republican presidents have been approved without objection, via unanimous consent or voice votes.
The 57-year-old Friedman has said the United States should not impose any solutions on Israel and that a binational state would not be a tragedy. He has challenged the widespread view that Israeli settlement activity is illegal and opposes a ban on construction activity in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem