Five former U.S. ambassadors to Israel said in a letter that President Donald Trump’s pick to be ambassador to Israel David Friedman isn’t qualified for the post.
The ambassadors said that Friedman holds “extreme, radical positions” and has called the two-state solution an “illusory fix” to a non-existent problem, The Associated Press reported.
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee is scheduled to hold hearings on Friedman’s nomination on Thursday.
Friedman is a strong supporter of Israeli settlements and opposes Palestinian statehood.
During a news conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday, Trump was evasive about whether he would support a two-state solution that would include a Palestinian state.
“I’m looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like,” Trump said. He did say to Netanyahu that he hoped that Israel would “hold off on settlements for a bit.”
Friedman has compared J Street, a liberal Jewish group that supports a two-state solution, to “kapos” — Jews who assisted the Nazis during the Holocaust.
He has accused former President Barack Obama and the State Department of antisemitism.
In their letter, the ambassadors asked the committee to address the question of whether Friedman would defend established U.S. positions, like opposing annexation of the West Bank and spreading of settlements there.
“The American ambassador must be dedicated to advancing our country’s longstanding bipartisan goals in the region: strengthening the security of the United States and our ally Israel, and advancing the prospects for peace between Israel and its neighbors, in particular the Palestinians,” the former envoys wrote.
Among the ambassadors who signed the letter were Thomas Pickering, who was ambassador to Israel under President Ronald Reagan; William Harrop, who was posted to Israel in the George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton administrations; Edward Walker, who also served under Clinton; Daniel Kurtzer, who served under George W. Bush; and James Cunningham, who was ambassador under Bush 43 and Obama.