Senate to Hold Hearing for US Amb. to Israel This Week

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David Friedman, a bankruptcy lawyer whose support for Israeli settlements and opposition to a two-state solution run counter to previous USA positions, will be the first of Trump's ambassadorial nominees to testify before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee when he heads to Capitol Hill on Thursday.

Rather than defend his positions, Friedman calmly attributed his long record of inflammatory remarks as the result of the heated presidential campaign and vowed to moderate his statements as a diplomat. "If you want me to rationalize it or justify it, I can not", Friedman said. That would create an independent Palestinian state alongside Israel and has been the global community's preferred solution for almost two decades. He specifically mentioned an exchange with Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the anti-Defamation league, which he called a bunch of "morons".

The diplomatic strategy, which envisions an Israeli nation and a Palestinian nation living side by side, has been the cornerstone of US policy since the Clinton administration, although Trump said Wednesday that he is willing to abandon it if Israel and the Palestinians can produce a better plan.

On Thursday, Friedman seemed more skeptical, saying "the challenges are daunting".

Although President Trump has stated that he will work toward peace in the region and has suggested that settlement expansion in the West Bank does not help the peace process, David Friedman's nomination contradicts this commitment. He asked him to clarify why he's willing to reverse himself on so many previous statements.

"I regret the use of such language and I want to assure you that I understand the important difference between a political contest and a diplomatic mission", Friedman said. "I think you have to be careful".

In fact, however, many politicians and thinkers on both sides of the Israeli spectrum have declared the two-state plan unworkable.

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As discussed in our preview for the testimony today, this means that the door for a Fed rate hike in March is not off the table. Larson also noted the Fed has some degree of hesitation regarding what the fiscal stimulus will look like.

The hearing has been scheduled for this Thursday - a day after US President Trump is scheduled to meet with Prime Minister Netanyahu in Washington.

"President Reagan said that settlement activity was 'in no way necessary for the security of Israel, '" Udall said.

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presents her credentials to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at U.N. headquarters in New York City, U.S., January 27, 2017.

Friedman is expected to be confirmed by the Republican-controlled Senate. A two-state resolution, he claimed, is "an illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem".

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.

Friedman, the son of an Orthodox rabbi, enjoys the support of far-right pro-Israel groups such as the Zionist Organization of America and Christians United for Israel.

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