Israeli Ambassador Nominnee David Friedman Testifies at Confirmation... CSPAN February 16, 2017 10:06am-1:19pm EST
us up here. we thank you for coming. we know you are going to introduce, we will defer our opening comments so you don't have to sit through that. we'll let you introduce. i do want to make -- i talked with some of the folks here that from time to time have a tendency to want to interrupt the meeting a little bit. in the past i have asked people to be removed and as it turned out they were arrested. i was able to get them unarrested but i don't have that ability anymore. the protocol is if you are asked to be removed from a meeting you are arrested. i don't have the ability anymore to keep that from happening. so if you would please don't put yourself in a position to need to be removed. we thank everybody for being here. it is part of our democratic process that people participate. we are glad to have everyone here. with that, let me turn to a friend of all of us, the great
senator from the state of south carolina, senator lindsey graham. >> to the protesters, i'm a lawyer, you probably get what you pay for. speaking of lawyers, mr. friedman is described as a deal making bankruptcy lawyer and also a very good trial lawyer. i can't think of a better choice to go to the mid east than a bankruptcy lawyer except maybe a divorce lawyer. i haven't known mr. friedman that long personally but i have known him by reputation as being a very passionate supporter of the state of israel. everybody up here i think deserves to be described as pro israel. having said that, that doesn't mean we can't disagree as to what that means. i think most of us agree that
when the u.n. has 20 resolutions against israel for their settlement policy and six against the world at large they sort of lost their way. i think it is okay to tell israel be careful about settlements. the president said that. i think a lot of us would agree that israel is the only democracy in a really troubled region and are not beyond criticism. you can be pro israel and criticize the policies in a particular government. i understand that and that is what makes us a unique friend to israel. sometimes you have to tell your friends things they need to hear. settlement policy is a contentious issue. we have different views about it. i think the president struck a good tone yesterday. the pro israel community, the american jewish community is divided like every other group
in america. we have the rjc. all of them believe they're pro israel and the other group is a little crazy. that is why we have so many different views. mr. friedman is very passionate. he has said some things that i don't agree with but i never doubt that he did it based on what he thought was the right thing to say at the time. what is encouraging to me that mr. friedman has said maybe i need to watch my rhetoric. he will be trump's voice. trump won the election. secretary clinton would not have picked mr. friedman. he picked him because he believed he is qualified, has
the experience and the passion and the skill set to be america's voice, not just trump's voice. to my democratic colleagues, i know what it's like to be disappointed in an election outcome. i haven't voted for a president who has won in 12 years. but i find myself supporting people for jobs that i would not have picked. the one thing i would say about david friedman that he loves the united states and israel with all of his heart and all of his soul. that he has been effective as a lawyer, that his reputation as a lawyer is beyond reproach. what does a good lawyer do? good lawyer tries to take people with different views to get to a win/win situation.
to represent your client with passion and also understand that the other side has an interest, too. when you look at his career as a lawyer those on the other side of mr. friedman would say that he is an honest, ethical, capable advocate that you can do business with. i believe he will bring that skill set to the job as u.s. ambassador to israel. the only democracy in a region hat is falling apart. if israel ever needed a strong voice and her court is now. if israel ever needed a unified congress it is now. israel can be criticized but israel needs to be supported and mr. friedman will get that support. thank you. >> thank you very much. now senator was a strong and
great voice for our country's national security and foreign policy issues. we welcome joe lieberman. >> thanks so very much for your generous words. i was actually looking forward to the opening statement you were going to make. >> you still acting like a politician. >> my wife says i have an incurable disease. members of the committee, former colleagues, friends, i'm really delighted to be here this morning to introduce my friend david friedman who, of course, is before the committee as the president's nominee to be the next ambassador to israel. after i left the senate in 2013 i became senior counsel at the law firm. probably neither david or i
thought that we would both be here this morning at that time when i joined the firm. but i have in those four years come to know david first as a legal colleague. i will tell you that i have learned a lot from him. he has extraordinary professional skills that will serve him well as ambassador. i'm i thinking of really great intelligence, a warm personality that engages trust and ability to advocate a cause but also to know when to compromise and negotiate so that all parties can walk away from a dispute feeling that they have accomplished something. now that i say that i may want to suggest that congress retain david for mediating purposes.
beyond our association in the law firm, david friedman and i have become really good personal friends and what might be called a point of personal privilege i want to explain how that happened. for three years our youngest daughter who some of you may remember, lived with her husband and growing family in new york. at the time they resided in a two bedroom apartment with one bathroom. when my wife and i visited, the only place we could sleep was on a sofa bed in the living room. i would say diplomatically, it wasn't comfortable. now i confess my own shortcomings. it was i, not my wife, who said we have to find another place
nearby to stay when we are visiting our children and grandchildren. it happens that david and tammy friedman live a ten minute walk from where our children live and they have a great guest suite. that, as they say in the movie, was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. during those three years -- my children are now in pikesville, the birth place and growing place in baltimore of senator cordon. >> they chose well. >> they have a much bigger house and we have our own room now. i thought you were going to say something. during these three years we shared a lot of time and a lot of sabbaths together with david and tammy friedman and we got to know them very well. they are genuinely devoted to each other and their family. they have the best of values and
live by them. tammy is a bright, compassionate, very likable person who will be, i believe, as great a partner in diplomacy if david is confirmed as ambassador as she has been a partner to him in life. during those weekends with the friedmans david and i had a lot of time to talk about things and i reached some conclusions about him that i think are relevant to his nomination to be ambassador that i want to share in just a few sentences. first, he is a patriotic, proud and grateful american. grateful for the opportunities america has given his family and him. second, he knows a lot about israel and cares deeply about its relationship with the united states. i'm confident that he will bring
his considerable personal skills to bear to strengthen this very important bilateral relationship. as i suggested earlier, i don't think david dreamed he would be nominated to be america's ambassador to israel. he probably never dreamed a client who became his friend would end up as president of the united states either. the fact that he has such personal relationship with the president, trusting relationship, i think will help him be an extraordinary ambassador and enable him to strengthen the already strong bridges between the united states and israel at a difficult time for israel and also for the united states. until a few months ago david friedman's life has basically been private. no more. i must say that the david friedman i have seen described
sometimes in the media in the last several weeks is not the thoughtful, capable personable and even funny david friedman i know. has david ever said or written anything that he wishes he had phrased differently or not said at all? i believe he has. he does. who hasn't? i certainly have said some things i wish i could rephrase or not say at all. so i ask you to listen to what he has to say today with an open mine. if he had said something in the past that bothers you ask him about it but please put it in the words context of his life, character and capability and his deep desire to serve our country. from many long conversations we have had over the years i can
tell you that david friedman doesn't only pray for peace between israel and its neighbors every day, he yearns for it. and if you confirm him he will as u.s. ambassador to israel do everything anyone could do to achieve peace between israel and its neighbors. in short, i believe david friedman deserves the support of this committee and the full senate. if i may, i do want to say that i hope that support will be bipartisan because it would be a shame to divide along party lines in a matter so essentially to america's relationship with israel which has been a safe zone of nonpartisanship even when just about everything else was divided along party lines.
i thank you very much for giving me this opportunity and i am proud to introduce david friedman to you and the committee. >> thank you so much. we appreciate both of you being here and your comments. you're welcome to leave. we do not consider that impolite. if you stay it is likely you will be interrogated so i would leave. with that, let me make a brief opening comment. just for a state of play. i know we have a vote at 10:30 that will drag on for a while. hopefully we can get through mr. friedman's opening comments and come back and return for questioning. i want to welcome mr. david friedman to discuss nomination to be ambassador to israel. over the last 70 years united states and israel have enjoyed a close and meaningful relationship. this alliance has been a pillar of american and israeli foreign policy and greatly beneficial to both nations. israel serves as the greatest
model for democracy in the middle east is our most important ally in the region. america's support for israel is a widespread bipartisan effort. congress has pushed for increased military aid between our two countries and i believe we have taken necessary steps to ensure that israel will have every tool and resource needed to defend itself in an increasingly destabilized region. even as we in congress have done the things needed to strengthen our bond with israel we have to acknowledge that the relationship between our two great nations has been strained in recent years. it is clear that action taken by the u.n. security council in december was counter productive to reaching long term peace between israel and palestinian people. a durable peace agreement will only come from direct negotiations.
any third party efforts to supersede those negotiations only serve as impediments to peace. in a neighborhood torn apart by terrorism and civil war the disproportionate focus on israel by the yooun runs counter to the organization's stated goals. with these challenges in mind and the on set of a new administration now more than ever we must recommit ourselves to the vital long term support of israel. mr. friedman, we are here to consider your nomination to be the u.s. ambassador to israel and to be the president's chief representative to that country. i look forward to hearing more today about how you will promote increased cooperation between our two nations. your views on the two state solution and other avenues towards peace and how you will be an effective instrument for achieving policy goals of the united states. we thank you for being here. i will turn to my friend and
ranking member. >> thank you. welcome. we welcome your family. it is good to have everyone here. we thank you for your willingness to serve the public in this critically important position as the united states ambassador to israel. the u.s. israel relationship is a strategic anchor for the united states and the middle east. it is one of the most important relationships of any country. it is a deep friendship that extends across our governments and enriches by intense, deep, people to people ties. your nomination comes at a critical point for israel and for the relationship. as i know my colleagues appreciate uzeral finds itself in a sea of instability. to the south isis continues to be a serious security threat despite much improved cooperation with egypt. as recently as last week isis militants launched a barrage of
rockets. to the west hamas maintains a stronghold in gaza and construct tunnels into israel. to the north hezbollah is gaining battlefield experience in syria that will be focussed on israel when the terror group's fighters return to lebanon. to the east the war in syria is a magnet for violent extremists. across the region regimes continue to spew antiisrael rhetoric sponsoring terror groups that pose a direct threat. in contrast to its neighbors and at a time when forces of --
israel is and remains vibrant democracy. opinionated political discourse. vibrant economy offers tremendous opportunities for high tech sector and a startup culture to achievements in agriculture and alternative energy. our defense sector has collaborated to produce the defense system. one of the leaders in the world puts israel in position to be an energy provider to the region. u.s. ambassador to israel plays a key role in engaging all communities within israel. all sectors of the economy and representing our government and the american people to israel's government. the u.s. ambassador plays a vital role in opening up u.s. embassy doors to all groups regardless of their politics or views. the ambassador will help chart the u.s. response to countering
israel's isolation as senator graham pointed out and counter the movement which threatens legitimacy of israel. given the complexity of the issues included in the portfolio mr. friedman i have questions about your preparedness for this important post. i am uncertain of how you will represent all americans to all israelis and whether you are commit today a long standing u.s. policy for a two state solution. the last ten adams to israel across republican and democratic administrations all ten had prior u.s. government experience. nine had prior professional experience in the middle east and eight had already served at least once as u.s. ambassador to other countries. i do not question that your background as a bankruptcy lawyer has enabled you to have skills but serving as a top
diplomat to one of the most important allies in the region beset by violent conflict, armed militant and terrorist groups requires a distinct set of skills and a distinct temperament. the language you have regularly used against those who disagree with your views has me concerned about your preparedness to enter the world of diplomacy. i will follow advice and ask directly that you respond to these types of concerns. for the record, it is important to note the examples. reviving holocaust terms to j street supporters with collaborators, calling anti-defamation league more ons stating liberal jews suffer from disconnect in identifying good and evil. and i could mention your specific comments about president obama or your specific
comments about members of the united states senate including the democratic leader. and i would ask that you respond to that. these are written comments, cases where you had the opportunity to -- you chose otherwise. i hope you will also offer a clear rejection of these inflammatory accusations as part of your testimony here today and reassure us that you are capable of acting with the discipline, tact, wisdom and diplomacy that serving as a u.s. ambassador requires. i am concerned that your views on the two state solution constitutes unprecedented break. republican and democratic administrations alike have promoted two states living side by side in peace and security. a democratic israel, jewish state and demilitarized palestinian state. written excerpts from your writing include your august
piece in the publication entitled end the two state narrative where you call it a damaging anack roinism and solution in search of nonexistent problem. you state the palestinians recognize the advantage of integration into israel society. i don't see how israel can remain democratic and jewish in a one state solution. demographics are unambiguous in this regard. i have not heard one realistic solution to what happens to hamas and gaza. i hope you are clear on your views to the israel palestinian confli conflict. your record of financial rhetoric support for settlements presume to join israel with
mutually agreed land swaps as part of a two state solution are troubling. the web page for the gala dinner in new york explicitly states that it is creating facts on the ground and new initiative to train students with the tools with the notion of the two state solution. in an august 2015 piece you wrote the state of israel went through an extraordinary internal angst in compelling evacuation of 8,000 brave jewish souls. does anyone think that israel has the political will to do the same to many hundreds of thousands of residents? these are not people who live on the fringes of israeli society. they are completely integrated to commerce and culture and serve in the most elite units. they will never be forced to leave their beautiful homes.
even president trump said settlements don't help the process. every time you take land for settlements there is less land left. i hope you will clarify your views on settlements and comments that you have made about my colleagues and others during the course of this hearing. my commitment to israel is unyielding y. believe it is a critical relationship to the united states and i worked in many decades in public service to assure there is a strong stable relationship between our countries. i am confident of the commitment support of my colleagues on the committee even though we may have different views and conflicting views as to how best to carry out that commitment. in that spirit i look forward to your testimony. >> we thank you for your willingness to serve. your written testimony will be written into the record if you
would consider summarizing your views in about five minutes or so. we look forward to robust questioning. thank you for being here. you're welcome to introduce your wonderful family who happens to be with you here today. thank you. >> members of the senate foreign relations committee i appreciate the opportunity to appear before you today. it's a great privilege to address this committee which has done so much to advance america's interests around the world. >> mr. friedman also said that palestinian refugees don't have a claim to the land and don't have a connection to palestinian when they do. my grand father was exiled and kicked out by state officials. and i am right here holding up the palestinian flag right behind you. we were there. we are there now and we will always be there. palestinians will always be
palestine. >> continue. >> privilege to address this committee which has done so much to advance america's interest around the world. together with the entire united states congress has for generations maintained unwavering support on a bipartisan basis for the state of israel. i am grateful to the president of the united states for nominating me to the post of ambassador to israel. i am humble by the trust and confidence that he has placed in me to strengthen the unbreakable bond between our country and israel and to advance the cause of peace within the region. i would like to thank senator graham and lieberman. and for their leadership on so many critical matters that effect our nation. i would like to introduce my family members who are here today and thank them for their support and encouragement. my beautiful bride and my
children watching at home is my son jacob and his wife who just had a baby boy. our daughter katie and seven beautiful grandchildren. whatever success i achieved in life would be unthinkable without their support. i would like to wish good luck to katie who is litigating her first mock trial today. i could not continue without reflecting upon my father who passed away some 12 years ago. he was my mentor, my hero and my closest friend. the child of poor immigrants, my father was a great patriot who felt an enormous debt of gratitude to our country for goodness in giving his parents and so many others the enormous opportunities embedded in the united states citizenship. in 1948 my father and my mother sat nervously at their radio listening to the session of the united nations held in queens,
new york. they rejoiced as the united states became the first nation to recognize the state of israel. my father cared deeply. he marched in the civil rights movement and convened prayer vigils and in the 70s he handcuffed himself on numerous occasions to soviet mission to protest the kremlin's refusal. in october 1984. >> mr. friedman supported -- mr. friedman in the [ inaudible ] he is more likely to vote in israel and occupied territory. he supports standard [ inaudible ]. >> my father had the privilege
to host president ronald reagan for launch and introduced him as he addressed our synagogue. those were dark days at the united nations for the state of israel. it operated under a cloud that equated zionism with racism. president reagan in remarks was unambiguous. he said if israel is ever forced to walk out of the united nations america and israel will walk out together. there was an unforgettable moment. seven years later with overwhelming support from this body america led the effort to repeal the infamous u.n. ezlucien. i would like to thank senator cardin for his leadership in advocating for that effort and to think my father played a small role in setting that process in motion.
my father's values are my values. i can never replicate the contributions he made. i have never been forced or asked to sacrifice. i have sought meaning and fulfillment through my faith and family and various endeavors. our nation's support for israel is long standing, steadfast and strongly in our national interest. if i am fortunate enough to be confirmed i will dedicate my mission to two things. developed over a lifetime of study and more than 50 visits to the state of israel. i will bring to this mission a close relationship with the president and demonstrated ability to carry out his directions to strategies and i will bring a negotiating skill
developed over many years to disputes. i will bring in a commitment to this country and ability to positively engage with the israelis. i approach this with unbridled optimism is excitement. some of the language that i use during the presidential campaign that ended last november has come in for criticism. while i maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics i want to assure you that i understand the critical difference between the partisan rhetoric of a political contest and diplomatic mission. partisan rhetoric is not appropriate in achieving diplomatic progress especially in a sensitive region like the middle east. for my perspective the inflammatory rhetoric that accompanied the presidential campaign is entirely over and if i am confirmed you can expect my
comments to be respectful and measured. if confirmed i will faithfully observe -- >> america jews, david friedman, you promote racism, fund illegal settlements. we will not be silenced. you do not represent us and you will never represent us. >> israeli occupation is an injustice. [ inaudible ]. >> millions of palestinians and israelis, american jews stand against --
>> if confirmed by the senate i intend to observe those given by the president and secretary of state without regard to my personal opinions. i would like to thank this committee for permitting me to appear today. i look forward to answering all of your questions. if i am confirmed i look forward to working with each and everyone of you to enhance our relationship with the state of israel. >> thank you for the comments. the vote has not yet gone off. we will just continue with questions. >> he is unqualified to be the u.s. ambassador to israel. [ inaudible ] we will begin
questioning with senator cardin. you and i have something very much in common. our parents worked for everything they could in order to strengthen the support for the state of israel and the values that it stood for and stands for. but my parents also taught me that words have consequences. my father who was circuit court judge served as president of our synagogue which he told me was the toughest position he ever held and taught me how to respect different views and to do that in an effective way. i am having difficulty understanding the language that you have used. you have justified that in your comments here that it was part
of a campaign. these were written statements. in some cases they go back before the campaign. i am referring to your comments about the democratic leader in the senate and his conversations in regards to nuclear agreement and how he came about his decision making. as a person who struggled with that decision i know the deliberations that i went through and all members went through. it was a tough decision. i am having difficulty understanding your use of those descriptions and whether you rail can be a diplomat because a diplomat has to choose every word that he or she uses. why should i believe that these were just emotional expressions and that you now understand the difference between that role and
that as a diplomat? >> senator, i provided context of my remarks. there is no excuse. i will -- if you want me to rationalize it or justify it i cannot. these were hurtful words and i deeply regret them. they are not reflective of my nature or my character. and i will tell you that for many, many years i have been involved in some of the most difficult contentious disputes that one can imagine. and i have dealt with judges, government officials and over a lengthy period no one has ever found me to be unable to control my temperament or my rhetoric.
the iran deal was something i felt passionately about. i was concerned that the united states was embarking upon a deal that presented risks at israel and potentially significant risks to our great country, as well. i didn't have access to all of the classified information that the members of the senate have, but from my perspective as a private citizen i felt it was important to speak out and i did so again in a private manner. those are my private opinions. they will be left in new york if i am privileged enough to travel to the state of israel for this mission. >> so just to put this in context and i will move on to the second issue i want to talk about. you were accusing the democratic leader of validating the worst
since munich. those words are beyond hurtful. senator schumer is one of the champions on these causes. let me move on to the two state solution. we have a chance to talk in my office. we know the demographics. we also understand the geographical area of a viable palestinian state. we don't know exactly where those lines will be but we have an idea. we both agree that that must be negotiated directly between the palestinians and israelis and no third party can dictate those terms. we are in total agreement that that will be a decision made by the israelis and palestinians. we know the geographical areas that are likely parts of those discussions. settlements and areas outside of that generally accepted area has been perceived by america as being less than helpful in the debate. you, of course, have been involved in supporting
settlements and in conversations that seem to imply that the two state solution is no longer a viable option. what do you mean by that? >> senator, if the israelis and the palestinians were able through direct negotiations to achieve a two-state solution along parameters agreeable to them and the prms of israel outlined some of them. i would be delighted to see peace come to this region where people have suffered on both sides for so long. i have expressed my skepticism about the two state solution solely on the basis of what i have perceived as unwillingness to renounce terror and accept israel as a jewish state. oi i think that is a foundational problem but i think it can be remedied and i hope it is. >> i don't think anyone would
disagree with that statement. the prerequisite of the two state solution is that there is a jewish state that is recognized by its neighbor and no longer can there be the cry that it's not legitimate. i think we all agree on that. i'm not sure that is responsive to the concerns that i have. >> senator, again, i would be delighted if the two state solution could be achieved. the two state solution began to take form in 1993 with the accords. one of the primary commitments was chairman arafat's commitment to begin to educate his people to stop hatred and we haven't made progress since then. and terrorism has increased four fold since before oslow. i don't think you and i disagree. i think that we both support israel. we both love this country and we both want peace. i think that there is more that
we have in common than divides us. i do want to see peace in the region and i believe a two state solution if it can be achieved would bring tremendous if it could be achieved would bring tremendous benefits to the israelis and the palestinians. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> because of the type of thor hearing, i see this developing into, we will have seven minutes on the clock for a round and i know that you just took seven. so, bernie, if you would dish understand that, and that is why u waited. but put 7p:00 on the clock if you will. senator reich. >> thank you very much. mr. friedman, thank you for your willingness to take on what is obviously a difficult struggle as it has been in the the recent years, and let me drill down in a little bit of one of the concern concerns that i have, a aunld of us sit and think about if there is indeed a solution, if a solution is even possible, how do you get there?
and the problem that i see or one of the many, many problems that i see is kind of foundational to the whole thing. that is who you are negotiating with. i mean, it seems to me that palestinian authority and hamas are deeply di vind deeply polarize and how do you accomplish that when you are supposed to be dealing with a single entity to make a deal that everybody is willing to live with, and now the deal is not going to work unless, unless the majority, the vast majority of the people on each side are are in agreement, and committed to make it work, and so what are the thoughts on that? i understand that it is getting into the weeds, but for me, it is foundational as to how you get to the end. >> senator, i think that you
have identified the gating problem. it is extraordinary challenge, and if u i think that if we didn't have that problem, the sort of the settlement that hamas is terrorist organization to seek the destruction of israeli, the entire state of israeli. their issues are not settlements, but the issues are the existence of israeli. they control the gaza strip. i don't know who would conrole the west bank if there were elections tomorrow. i don't have a good answer to making peace with an entity controlled by hamas. i do believe that the future needs to begin with greater efforts to empower to some, tent to create a palestinian middle-class. >> gaza is ungovernable.
it has a 30% or higher unemployment rate. until that changes, i don't think that we will be able to uproot hamas from the gaza strip. so i am, and my approach has been and if asked by the president, i'm not here to make policy, but if asked by the president, i would recommend deepening the efforts with our allies in the gulf and israeli's neighbors to work harder to em pow er the economic opportunities for the palestinian people who i believe are being held hostage by a ruthless regime. >> i a appreciate that and the observation seems to be very legitimate in that the gaza strip and the west bank seem like worlds apart as far as economic opportunity and for that matter as far as culture.
gangs, i don't know how you get those, and bring those two together to get to where you need to be, but i wish you well in that. i think that we will all be watching to see how that works out. and that may very well be out of everyone's control except for the pal stestinians themselves. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you. i think that what we will do is instead of having a roving, i know that peel want to hear the answers to the questions. we have a recess and a vote and unfortunately a 10-minute debate period in between and then another vote. so if everybody would come back promptly after the second vote, a and so you may want to come back at that time, but we will recess until that time. thank you.
president trump's nominee to be the next ambassador to israeli, and seeing number of protests taking place during the hearing. they are are taking a break now because the senators are conducting a set of votes on the trump nominees. nick mulvaney is the nominee, and this is a vote on his cone firmation, and after that, the senators will vote to advance the nomination of scott pruitt to head the epa. those votes are underway now, and they should take a half hour or so to finish those up. sbloo the senate judiciary committee, and the news to pass on president trump's supreme court nominee will head to the hill for a nomination hearing. the 12th is date those hear also get underway, and of course, we will have live coverage of that. while we are waiting for this to continues on david friedman to be the next ambassador to israeli, we will show you the testimony as the hearing just got underway this morning. we welcome mr. david
friedman who has been nominated to be the ambassador to israeli. we also welcome the two very distinguished guest, and two member, a member and former member who have tremendous respect by everyone up here, and thank you for coming. we know that you will introduce, and ben and i will defer the opening comments so you don't have to sit through that, and we will let you introduce. i do want to go ahead tuque to some of the folks who from time to time have a tendency to want to interrupt the meeting a little bit. in the past i have asked some people to be removed, and as it turned out they were arrested. i was able to get them unarrested, but i don't have that the ability anymore. the protocol is that if you are asked to be removed from the meeting, you are arrested, and i don't have the ability anymore to keep that from happen iing. so if you would please don't put yourself in a position to need
to be removed. we thank everybody for being here, and part of the democratic process that people participate, and glad to have everyone here, and with that, are let me turn to the friend of all of us the great senator from the state of south carolina, senator lindsey graha graham. >> well, thank you. to the protester, i'm a lawyer, and i come cheap if you do get arrested, but you will get what you pay for [ laughter ] >> mr. chairman, nobody believes that he comes cheap. >> and speak of lawyers, mr. friedman is described as a deal-making bankruptcy lawyer and also a very good trial laur. i can't think of a better choice to go to the middle east except for a bankruptcy lawyer or maybe a divorce laur. so -- divorce lawyer. i have not known him for long, but i have known him by reputation to be a passionate supporter of the state of
israeli. everybody up here deserves to be described pro israeli, and having said that, it does not mean that we can't disagree as to what that means. most of us agree that when the u.n. has 20 resolutions against israeli for their settlement po policy and six against the world at large it is sort of lost their way, but it is okay to the tell israel to be careful about the settlements, and the president said that and a lot of us would agree that israeli is the only democracy in a very troubled region, and they are not beyond criticism. you can be pro israel and criticism the government or the policies in a particular government. i understand that and that is what makes us a unique friend to israeli. you have to sometimes tell your friends the things that they need to hear. so the settlement policy is a contentious issue, and we are
have different views about it, but i think that the president struck a good tone yesterday. the pro israeli community and the american jewish community is divided like every other group in america. we have apac and rjc and the other groups, and so swun that they all believe they are pro israeli. and mr. friedman has been passionate and he has said some things that i don't agree with, but i don't doubt that he said what he felt at the time, and what is encouraging is that what mr. friedman has said maybe i need to watch my rhetoric. that is why i believe that he is the right git ta right time. he is trump's voice, and trump won the e llection, secretary clinton would not have picked mr. friedman.
donald trump picked him, because i believe president trump understands that mr. friedman would be a voice consistent with tr trump's view of the u.s./israeli relationship that he is qualified, that he has the experience, and the passion and the skill set to be america's voice and not just trump's voice. to my democratic colleagues, i know it is like to be disappointed in the election outcome. i have not voted for a president who has won in 12 years. but i find myself supporting people for jobs they would not have picked. one thing about david friedman, he loves the united states and israel with all of e his heart and sole. he has been effective as a lawyer, and that his reputation as a lawyer is beyond reproach
and what does the good lawyer do? good law ariers try to take people with differing views to get to a win-win situation. to represent your client with passion, and also to understand that the other side has an interest, too. when you are looking at his career as a lawyer, those are on the other side of mr. friedman would say that he is an honest, ethical, capable advocate that you can do business with. i believe he is going to be bringing that skillset to the job of u.s. ambassador to israeli. the only dem kocracy in a regio that is falling apart. if israel ever needed a strong voice and in her court, it is now. if israeli ever needed a unified congress, it is now.
israeli can be criticized, but israeli needs to be support and mr. friedman can get that support. >> and senator, again, welcome the both sides of the aisle, and so there is a strong and great voice for our country's national security and foreign policy issue, and we welcome joe lieberman for being here today. >> well, thank you for the generous words and i don't know about lindsey, but i was looking forward to the opening statements that that you were going the make. >> i see that you are still acting like a politician. >> as my wife said, they have an incurable disease. and senator cardin and former colleagues and friends, i am delighted to be here this morning to introduce my friend david friedman who is of course p before the committee as the president's nominee to be the
next ambassador to israeli. after i left the senate in 2013, i became senior counsel at the law firm of lieberman, katz and friedman and probably david and i never thought that we would be here when i joined the firm. but in the four years i have come to know david, first as the legal colleague, and also, you have learned a lot from hum. he has extraordinary skills to instruct him, and warm sen nili that will help him to advocate a cause and also to nknow when to compromise and negotiate so that
all parties can walk away from the dispute feeling that they have accomplished something. now that e say, that i may want to suggest that congress retain david for mediating purposes. okay. i could not resist that. beyond the association in the law firm, david friedman and i have become really good personal friend, and what might be called a point of personal privilege, i want to explain how ta that happ -- how that happened. for three years, our young eest daughter, h a ani, who some of you may remember grew up in woodbury, new york, and at the time they resided in a two bedroom apartment with h hani and daniel and their two boys that became three boys. thank god. and when my wife and i visited, the only place that we could sleep was on sofa bed in the
living room. i would say diplomatically it was not comfortable, and my shortcomings, it was my sainted wife who said, we need another place nearby to stay when we are visiting our children and grandchildren. it happens that david and tammy friedman live a ten-minute walk from where our children lived and they have a great guest suite. that as they say in the movie was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. during those three years and incidentally my children are now in pikesville, the birthplace and the growing place in baltimore of senator cardin. >> they chose well. >> yes, and a much bigger house, and we have our own room now. [ laughter ] i thought that you were going to say something, mr. chairman. during these three years we shared a lot of time and a lot
of sabbaths together with david and tammy friedman and we got to know them very well. they are genuinely devoted to each other and thele family. and tammy is a bright and compassionate very likable person who will be i believe as good of a partner in diplomacy if david is nominated. i think that relevant to his nomination to be ambassador is to share just how grateful an american is.
second, i have known that he cares deeply about its relationship with the united states. i am confident that we will bring his considerable personal skills to bear to strengthen this very important bilateral relationship. as i suggested earlier i don't believe that david e ever dreamed that he would be nominated as ambassador to israeli, but then again he never thought that his friend would grow up to be president of the united states either. the fact that he has a close and trust i trusting relationship with the president, i believe it is going to help him become an extraordinary am bbassador and strengthen the already strong bridges between the united states and israeli at a difficult time. and for israel and the united
states. until a few months ago, david friedman's life has been basically private. no more. i must say that the david friedman i have been described in the media in the last few weeks is not the thoughtful, capable personable and even funny david friedman i know. has david ever said or written anything that he wish he had phrased differently or not said at all? i believe he has, he does, and who hasn't? i certainly have said some things they wish that i could rephrase or not say at all. so i ask drou listen to what he has to say today with the open mind f. he has said something in the past that bothers you, please, ask him about it, but
put it in the the larger context of the life, the character, the capability and his deep desire to serve our country. from many long conversations that we have had over the years, david friedman does not only pray for peace between israel and its neighbors everyday, he yearns for it. if you confirm him, he will as ambassador to israeli do anything that anyone could do to achieve peace between israeli and the neighbors. in short, i believe that david friedman deserves the support of the committee and the full senate, and if u i may, mr. chairman, and senator cardin, i will say that i hope that the support is bipartisan, because it would be a shame to have this committee and the senate dividele along party lines on a matter so central to america's relationship with isrli which
has historically and importantly been a safe zone of nonpartisanship even when just about everything else was divided among party lines. i thank you for this opportunity, and i am proud to introduce david friedman to you and the committee. >> thank you so much. we appreciate both of you being here with the comment, and you are welcome to know that we did not consider that impolite. and if you are going stay, it is likely that you are going to be interrogated and so with that i would leave. and now, with a brief comment for senator cardin and for the state of play, we have a vote at 10:30 to drag on a while, and hopefully we can get through mr. friedman's oepgtake a break and get on. and so today, i want to welcome david friedman in his nomination
as the ambassador to israeli. the united states and israeli have en i joyed a close and meaningful relationship. this alliance has been a pillar of the foreign policy and beneficial to both nations. israeli serves as the greatest model of democracy in the u middle east, and the most important ally in the region. american support for israeli is a widespread bipartisan effort, and it should remain so. congress has are repeatedly pushed for increased military aid and security cooperation between two kcountries, and i believe that we have taken necessary steps to ensure that israeli will have every tool and resou resource needed to defend itself in an increasingly destabilize region. yet, even as we in cob have done the things needed to strengthen the bond with israeli, we have to acknowledge that the relationship between our two great nations has been strained in recent years. it is clear that action taken by
the u.n. security council in de december was counter productive for reaching a long term peace between israeli, and the palestinian people. a durable peace agreement comes from direct negotiations, and any third party efforts to supersede the negotiations which serve as impediments to peace. in a neighborhood torn the apart by terrorism and civil war, the disproportionate focus on israeli by the u.n. runs counter to the organization's stated goals. and so these challenges and mine and the onset of a new administration now more than ever, we must recommit ourselves to the long term vital support of israeli. mr. friedman, we are here to consider the nomination to be the u.s. am bbassador the israe, and the president's chief representative to that country. i look forward to hearing more today about how you will promote increased cooperation between our two nation, and your views
on the two-state solution, and other avenues towards peace and how you will ban effective instrument for achieving the policies and goals of the united states. thank you forring being here, and -- thank you for being here, and i yield to the chairman. >> thank you for coming here with your family and your willingness to serve the public in this critically important position as ambassador to israeli. the u.s./israeli relationship is a strategic anchor of the united states to the middle east and indeed one of the most important relationships. and it is a deep and genuine friendship across the governments and enriches deep people to people ties. your nomination comes at a critical time for israeli and the u.s./israeli relationship. as i know that the colleagues in the committee appreciate that israeli finds itself in the sea of instability and confronted with threats on every border. to the south, the isis in the
sinai continues to be a serious threat despite the much improved cooperation with egypt. as recently as last week, the isis militants launched a barrage of rockets into a lot. and hamas also maintains a strong hold in gaza and diverting the materiels for civilians to rebuild the arsenal and construct terror tunnels into israel. to the north, hez blbollah is gg to create more terror groups. and to the east is also the acquiescence to maintain a strategic corridor from syria and damascus and lebanon. across the region, iranian regimes spew anti-semitic, and anti-israeli rhetoric sponsoring terror groups that pose a direct threat to israeli's security.
in contrast to the neighbors and at a time when the forces of forces are on the rise in too many places, israeli is and remains a vibrant democracy. it is the home to a lively civil society, and energetic, and opinionated political discourse. the vibrant economy offers opportunities for the high-tech sector, and the start-up sek for achievements in agriculture and energy. we have attempted to produce a life saving missile system. israeli's green and energy s sector which is one of the leaders of the world puts israeli in a position to be an energy providerer to the region. u.s. ambassador the israeli is goinging the play a key role to engaging all communities within israeli and all sectors and representing our government and israeli's government. the u.s. ambassador also plays a
vital role to opening up the doors to all groups regardless of the politics and the views, and the ambassador will help chart the u.s. response to countering israel's isolation, and international organizations as senator graham pointed out, and effectively countered the movement that with questions the e legitimacy of israeli, and fosters anti-semitism. given the breadth, and the depth of the complex issues concerning israeli, mr. friedman, i have questions about your preparedness for this proposed post. i am uncertain how you will represent all americans to all israelis, and whether you are committed to a longstanding u.s. policy for the two-state solution. of the last ten ambassadors to israeli, and across the democratic and republican adm administrations all ten had prior experience and nine had prior professional experience, and eight had served once as a
u.s. ambassador to other countries and i don't can question that your background as a bankruptcy lawyer has allowed you the sever complex negotiation, but serving as one of the top diplomats in the region beset by armed conflicts and militant groups and unstable autocrats with a requiring a distinct set of skills, and distinct temperament. and the language that you have used against those who disagree with your views has me concerned about the prep pairedness to en the tr the world of diplomacy, and so i will follow senator lieberman's advice and ask that you respond to the types of concerns. for the record, it is important to note the examples, and equating the holocaust terms with the j-strait supporters and their love and commitment to
israe israeli, and calling them morons and stating that liberal jews have a congress disconnect, and identifying good and evil, and mr. friedman i could mention your specific comments about certain things or members of the united states senate including the democratic leader, and i ask you to respond to that. these are written comments and case cases where where you have and the opportunity to consider what you were saying to make the judicious edicts if you so desired, and you chose otherwise. i hope that you will offer a clear and une kwif kabl rejk shun of the inflammatory accusations as part tof the testimony here to today and reassure us that you are capable of acting with the discipline, tact, wisdom and diplomacy that serving as a u.s. ambassador requires. i am concerned that your views on the two-state solution is going to be a break from the longstanding u.s.le policy. republican and democratic administrations have promoted
two states living side by side in peace and security, and democratic israeli, and jewish state, and demilitarized palestinian state. excerpts from your writings on this topic including your august 26th piece "end the two-state narrative" and you go on the call it damaginging and an kn k aknackerism. and i have not heard one solution as to what happens in hamas and gaza in a one-state solution. i hope you are crystal clear about what your views are in
regards to the realistic sustainable israeli and palestinian record. and also your record on the outside blocs to presume to join israel with land swaps as part of the two-state solution are troubling. the galla dinner last year in support of the bethel initiative is to train the students with the tools successfully legitimizing the two-state solution. in august 29 piece you wrote that the state of israel -- >> first of all, we are back in ste session, and in order to move on, senator udall, sips you sie ready, we will move on. >> thank you for the hearing and i want to put in the record the letter from are the five
ambassadors if it has not been already put in the record with the bipartisan group of ambassadors that say that mr. friedman is unfit to be the am bas dor. >> without objection. >> i would do that and i will agree with much of what they said. i am strongly opposed to this nominee. i believe that secretary tillerson and president trump should recognize that mr. friedman is complete ly unfit fr this or any other diplomatic office, and withdraw him immediately. if not, i strongly recommend that this committee not recommend him for confirmation. mr. friedman does not represent american values in the are region evident from the past statements and not random off of the cuff remarks. many much of the offensive and inflammatory and insulting rhetoric has been reported in the newspapers and repeated over and over, and he is called for the arbitrary ban on many muslims entering the country, and mr. friedman has stated that
muslims should submit internet and telecommunications activity for inspection, and he has said, and quote, no need to worry about the first amendment, and he has also said that the rights of free speech do not apply to muslims attempting to enter the country. mr. chairman and colleagues just last week, the republican majority chose to censure a colleague under senate rule 19 for imputing bad conduct to a senator, and if we truly care whether the senators are maligned we should look at his words which are mentioned earlier by mr. cardin and i agree with him in the opening talking about him rejecting these comments, but he has insulted and denigrated members of the senate including senator schumer and senator franken and mr. friedman said no matter how we ultimately vote or no matter how we ultimately vote that by making the decision a close call which is plainly not should be,
it is schumer violating and validating the worst appeasement of terrorism since mew nick, end quote. when the anti-defamation league and senator franken criticized the trump ad as being anti-semitic, he said, quote, i don't know how anybody can take the anti-defamation league seriously going forward. this is what happens when the people take these insane ar arguments to their logical extension. they lose all credibility and frankly they sound like morons, end quote. he has criticized president obama and denigrated secretary clinton's personal u views on israeli, and he says i don't think that she particularly likes israel, end quote. and are responding to president
obama and the condemnation of violence in israel, he said, engaging in blatant anti-semitism. end quote. we can all detect a pattern here. anyone who disagrees with his extreme views or the approach to israeli is an tie semite. and for the record, he has, mr. friedman has said that he has a cognitive disconnect in identifying good and evil. and by these words he disrespects many in the jewish community including my home state of new mexico, where where i have a had many calls from new mexico urging that we are reject this nomination. such devie zi and hateful comments against anyone who disagrees with him is unbecoming of the ambassador to any country. it is clear that mr. friedman's appointment would represent a profound break with decades of
the decades of foreign policy to support a two-state solution, and resisting the legal settlements that make a solution more remote. preside president reagan said that the settlement activity was in no way necessary for the security of israeli and diminishes the confidence of yaarabs that an outcome could be free and fairly done. mr. freed sman profoundly unfit to lead members of the state department, and he accuses many of them for being quote over 100 years of anti-semitism, end quote. i say it as a friend of israel that has always supported military aid to defend the borders and if we can confirming him, we are running a dangerous risk that he will inflame a volatile situation, an inflame other foreign governments in the region. we need a steady hand in the
middle east and not a bomb thrower in a position of high power and responsibility. one final note, sometimes he does not merely stop at name calling of those who disagree with him as anti-semitic, because he rote in an article in 2015, j. street supporters are far worse than capos and jews who turned in their fellow jews in the nazi death camps. they are smug advocates of the israeli's destruction delivered from the comfort of their secure american sofas. it is hard to imagine anyone worse, end quote. that statement in a written article and not off of the cuff remarks demonstrates the complete and total unfitness for this extremely important office. mr. chairman, i would like to enter all of the source documents for all of these quotes into the official hearing
record. >> without objection. >> thank you. p the majority wants to jam through all of the president's, president trump's diplomatic nominees, they probably can, but i urge them to caucus in private and talk to president's team to see if we can move in a different direction. mr. friedman, have you ever issued a public apology for any of the insulting comments addre addressed to israeli and will you today reject that inflammatory comments? >> yes. i have reached out over the last several months to reach out to a number of people who have been hurt by what i have said or people who indicated that they would like to speak to me including the union of reformed rab byes and the new york board
of rabbis and a personal meeting with with senator franken and includes a telephone followed up with e-mails with john greenlat from the anti-defamation league, and in the latter, the ap poll i jis were accepted and i expect on the ongoing basis those relationships and others will be inclusive and respectful. >> i also would like to have because i know that the time is out, and i will submit questions for the record, but you invested massively in the settlement movement and so i would like for you to the record to answer in writing whether you have separa separated your financial interests from that of bet-al and any other settlement s ths you have an interest in and have done so and i appreciate the chairman's courtesies to allow me to run over a little bit. >> and i don't know if that is a yes or no answer. >> i will be happy to submit answers to all of the questions,
senator. >> thank you. senator portman. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i appreciate the opportunity to hear you respond to some of those allegations and you used the word reject, and i this they you are regret as well some of the comments it sounds like and not the put words in your mouth. >> yes, i do, senator. >> that is with whis what i sen your remarks today. you can have no advocate than joe lieberman, and he has respect on both sides of the aisle and he knows you as a friend and colleague. so you are smart to have brought him with you today. >> thank you. [ laughter ] >> i won't talk about -- and he is fine, too. i have concerns, because this is not a tipple cal ambassador, and
i have been to israeli to meet with the ambassador there, and in frank, in the world, it does m matter who the ambassador s and the state department has taken a bigger and bigger role in the last few decades in the foreign policy and even the white house plays a big role in certain countries, but this is a really important one. and that person on the ground developing those relationships, i think it is critical for two reasons. one, we do have a lot of the diversion points of view here as you can see. we are all supportive of israeli, i think it is fair to say and i hope that is true, but different a approaches here, and so to a ambassador a has to bring all of the different points of view together and provide counsel to the president and our secretary of state and others and the national security adviser, and you will be getting a lot of visitors and some of them who are confirmed from this body and around the world, so it is a very important role in terms of taking all of the different points of view, and so, one of my questions for you
is, are you capable of doing that? listening to the points of view and in some respects being a broker to the points of view to present to the administration? >> yes, senator. i do believe i can do that. i think that bipartisanship has been the hallmark for israeli. as i have commented occasionally to several of the senators who i have had the privilege to meet. i want to do everything i can to work with the members of congress to build upon what is, u thishgs much more that you -- what is, i think, much more that unites us than divides us, and all of those views are made in good faith, and so if i am confirmed it is a high priority of mine to synthesize and to the extent of harmonizing the views
of the congress and also to do the same in israeli. as the divided as the israeli is so is the united states. >> and let me continue that the second role i wanted to mention is the one that you are suggesting now, is that the ambassador role is typically someone who has a personal relationship with the leadership there, and not just the prime minister, but also members of the cabinet and the opposition parties, because as you can say it is diverse and a little kay yot nick the pa yot -- chaotic, and so in those relationships, and so do you believe that you can be effective there and how would you go about representing the united states of america? would you be interested in the public comment? some ambassadors have taken that route or more private
conversation, and do you feel as though you have relationships in the country beyond the coalition government, and beyond the existing parties that are in power to be able to perform that role. >> senator, on the issues of the private comments, discretion is incredibly important, and i this u that public comments can be self-defeating. as you saw yesterday, people hang on every word that is issued on this subject, whether or not the speaker intended that or not, and i think that you have to be careful. i think that if there is progress to be made in the middle east, and the peace process, it is through the private diplomacy, and through forging ingagreements and agreements and coligtss and common interests behind the scenes. that is important.
i do understand well the center of the left and the right of the israeli knesset, and they are all good people, and they have all sacrificed for the kun u tri, and many of this em have paid the ultimate sacrifice for the loss of love in the country, and the people to the left have lost their families can continue to maintain the positions on the left, and they are entitled to do so and they should do so, and so it is hard to bring it together. ultima ultimately, this is a rubiks cube, and lot of pieces that have to come together, and i do think that i know the issues and the players, and i do ti that i have worked in a albeit much less complicated capacity, but i have worked to develop a skillset that is complimentary to the task. >> in your law practice? >> yes. >> okay. one specific issue that i want
to raise is what is the investments and the ainge shurngs and the ambassador to israeli is going to have to be someone who is a spokesperson for the u.s. point of view on this, and will have the ability i open to try to communicate to the rest of the world what it means for instance to have sanctions or boycott with regard to the west bank and what that peens in terms of israeli and the palestinian, and goe slan another issue that is becoming a part of the bds in some for ums, and what is your view on bds and ben cardin and i u have legislation that we want to get passed, but talk about how you feel as am bbassador the israel how you can be a communiqcator the to put this global effort in what is a strong support from the united states to combat it. >>ly be a fierce advocate gai
against the bbs movement, and ambassador haley has committed to as well. i look at the example of soda stream, and i don't know if you know the company, but it was extraordinarily successful company that employed hundreds of palestinians and israeli and paid them the same wages and benefits and paradigm of the pal stin ians and the israelis to work together, but because soda stream was on the wrong side of the green line, they were boycotted and then palestinians lost their jobs. it is an entirely self-defeating prospect not only for the palestinian, but the israelis as well. >> senator kaine. >> i want to say welcome and i want to talk about the press conference that was yesterday between president trump and prime minister netanyahu. the resolution has been to
support, and this is in the words of the resolution, itself, a partition to the area previously known as palestine into two states, the jewish state and the arab state, and that has been the cornerstone of american policy and reaffirmed often by the palestinians and the israelis since the oslo according. and yesterday, president trump signal ad ed a potential new direction. and i don't want to editorialize, but i want to say that i am looking at a one-state and two-state, and i am happy with the one that both parties like, and i can live with either one. as i read that, i assumed that both parties were israeli and palestinians more broadly. is that how you understood that? >> yes, i watched it from my iphone in keen interest, and i was not involved in the meeting with the prime minister or the
lead-up to it or the follow-up, so i am relying on what i saw as well as you, but yes, i heard it that way, whatever the palestinians and the israeliing a free upon. >> this is something that would get near unanimous view up here the u.s. policy should be to support a resolution that both parties like, but if either or both parties don't ak e september it, then the u.s. should not support that policy? >> well, i cannot speculate on the policy that might not gain bilateral support. and certainly, it is the policy of this country for generations to foster direct negotiations and to help bring those to a conclusi conclusion. >> but would you agree with the general thrust of the president's statement that i like the one that both parties like. >> certainly. >> regarding a two-state
resolution, as if the palestine would not recognize the jewish state as per the resolution. >> i think so. >> and israeli would not like any formulation where a neighboringle palestine would refuse to treat it and live with it as a peaceful neighbor. you agree with that? >> yes. >> and so based on the president's statement, if israeli did not like a two-state proposal for that, the u.s. could notes for it based on the i support something that both sides like? >> again, that is the u.s. could not support -- i think that i have to know more about what exactly the u.s. is presented with. >> you would not expect the u.s. to support a two-state deal where there was not a pledge to recognize israeli's right to exist or the israeli's security? >> no. israeli is one of our strongest allies and we owe it no less >> so let me switch over to
one-state formulation, and the palestinians would not like any o one-state formulation, and they would not like to be forced to evacuate their land. >> no. >> and the palestinians would not like a one-state solution unless they had full and equal right s rights in such a state. >> i don't think that anyone would ever support a state where different classes of citizens have different rights. >> we agree on, that and we talked in my office that not only would the u.s. not accept a situation are where the people were consigned to a second-class status, but por my somewhat limited experience in israeli, and your dramatically more experience, but i don't believe either would accept where palestinians would have a second class citizens -- >> i don't know anybody who would support that because it san untenable construct. >> and based on the president's
formulation, one-state solution would be acceptable if the palestinians accepted it, and they won't accept fit they are treated as second-class students in that forulation. >> i agree. >> and so let me summarize based on the president's theory that we can't support any formulation, we can support any formulation that makes both side happy. the u.s. could never accept, talking about the u.s. policy and not israeli or palestinian po policy, but the u.s. could never support a two-state solution if it did not require full reck are in addition of israeli as contemplated in the resolution in 1947 and to live in peace, and we could not support such a policy? >> correct. >> and so the u.s. could not support any solution where the palestinians are deprived of the full and equal rights that are accorded to any other citizen, correct? >> i think so. >> i don't have any other
questions, mr. chair. thank you. >> thank you, sir. senator johnson. >> thank you, mr. friedman, for your willingness to serve. having negotiated you have to sit down with people negotiating in good faith, and the fundamental problem is that you is the other side of palestinians to refusing to acknowledge israel's right to exist and isn't that the fundamental problem here? it is a continuing problem for a generation. >> i wanted to talk about how you mentioned in the testimony that palestinians are being held hostage. in their education system for decades, they have been teaching vile things about iz ray lis and jews, correct? >> yes, they have. >> and in palestinian law, they are rewarding terrorist, correct? and it is increasing and cynic of the people who have been murdered? >> yes, that is true. >> so it is really true that a
majority of the palestinians are held hostage and they would like a peaceful coexistence with the israeli state? >> i believe that the majority of the palestinians would like peaceful coexistence. >> i u hope that is true. to what extent should america continue to provide foreign aid to the palestinian authority when they are teaching the young children the vile things they are teaching and incentivizing the palestinian terrorists to continue the murder jews? it is is an important question for congress to consider. we cannot continue to incentivize this behavior and it is entirely self-defeating to the palestinians and israeli and the entire world. i understand that congress is looking at this and i applaud this evident. >> do you know what the administration's position is going to be on that and are we going to continue to provide that foreign aid or condition
the foreign aid on certainly the not teaching those things or providing those types of incentives? >> i don't know if the administration has a specific position on it was just not working to have different rules of law apply kind of to senator kaine's question here, for those syrian citizens, they needed some certainty, so they decided to the goal on heights. so can you explain the affect? >> i think it's an importantly strategic goal for israel, one can only imagine how israel would be suffering right now if it didn't have it. it is not an area of conflict.
i'm not saying -- there may be some conflicts but my experience is i think it worked out quite well. >> i think if i were a syrian i would rather be living there on aleppo. >> i would say that's true. >> say they had to move their family in the middle east, could choose any country in the middle east, which would they choose to move their family? i can tell you i would move mine to israel. that's my final question. thanks. >> thank you, chairman corker, ranking member for holding this important hearing, mr. friedman for being willing to serve the american people. we had a pointed conversation. you are well known to the delaware bar i'll stipulate for
the record at the outset that your legal skills are widely respected and as many of my colleagues have asked that's really not the central concern raised by former ambassadors, it's not whether you are skilled at reaching complex legal situations, but your intemperate -- with a president unskilled in diplomacy and inclined toward inflammatory tweets that your temperament is important for this critical post. that's sort of the central question today. let me first say one of my core concerns is that the vital alliance tween the united states and israel shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of partisan politics. i've long believed that bipartisanship in support of israel advances our interest,
israel's interest and is the best path towards peace in the world, but greatly concerned that -- are pulling officials away from a middle ground on the left and right at a time of real division in both our nations i think it's important that this congress act in a way that reaffirms or bipartisan commitment to israel. we have a great deal at stake. iran continues to threaten israel and american interests, continues to destabilize the middle east, isis, hamas, hezbolla. israel is a vital partner for the united states. much of the media coverage focuses on shared challenges but recent successes shouldn't go unnoticed. we discussed the ten-year mou and $38 billion of support the
largest u.s. aid package ever and something president obama deserves credit. defense minister liebermann say that your security cooperation intelligence sharing has never been stronger but worry with so many you have to gain by further cooperation we are allowing rhetoric by hard liners in israel and extremist pal assistant state palestinians are driving us farther apart. -- for palestinians to give an unequivocal right to exist and direct efforts toward sorting out a plan for peace, but both sides have to consider their words and actions that
contribute to this and don't grow and i'm concerned that both sides will have to listen to each other and come together for a lasting peace. as we discuss the challenges and put real pressures on a jewish democratic state in long run, that's not our only challenge. i was concerned and disappointed that president trump didn't support a two-state plan yesterday. something that's been a pillar of bipartisan support. it is very difficult to articulate a rationale plan or frame work which palestinians would accept for a one-state solution that would have any viability. given previous statements that
were made intemperate or insulting whether as an ambassador they would be welcomed valued at the u.s. embassy in israel. i'm concerned that successful diplomacy means considering the consequences of our rhetoric an our behavior, so mr. friedman my central question is do you believe that in the role of ambassador if confirmed that you can act in a way that welcomes, celebrates and validates the israel pro-jewish community in a way that steers the trump administration and its agenda in the middle east towards peace and away from division and partisanship. >> thank you senator for the question. the short answer is yes. i think it's extraordinarily important as we discussed yesterday to cause the issue of
israel to not be a political football. it never has been in the past. i am -- i'm certainly not immune from criticism. i deserve the criticism and probably contributed to the problem, but we have all i think not -- many people in the jewish community and pro-israel community have become more partisan, more separated when at the end of the day as i said earlier they all support israel, they all love this country and all want peace and i think on those common footings, it's important to reunite the pro-israel community and i will pledge to you ill do everything i can and be inclusive and respectful of different views and if i'm fortunate enough to be confirmed, i will solicit and very seriously consider all the views of people who in good faith want to strengthen the
bond of the united states and israel. >> i appreciate that. i can't remember a previous confirmation hearing for an ambassador repeatedly interrupted by protests, the explosive environment in the middle east, the long standing divisions between israelis, palestinians, excites very intense passions an you're statements have been intemperate and many cases inappropriate and insulting and has been a subject of great back and forth. do you support or will you advocate for israeli annexation in the west bank? >> i will not. >> do you believe a two-state solution is the most ideal path toward peace? i think it's the most i deal and
has considered the most thought and consideration. obviously it's been tried for a long long time and we continue to wrestle with it. much smarter people than me have tried to make progress and failed, but it still remains i believe the best possibility for peace in the region. >> thank you. >> senator yellen. >> mr. friedman i enjoyed our time together in the office. we spent roughly an hour talking about at full range of topics rer pa pertaining to the middle east. i think i shared with you as a marine corps intelligence officer, my role was to serve as a unit that flew around drones jointly developed with the state of israel. i came to appreciate through that experience the importance of information sharing between our two countries and also
technology development and during my recent years as a member of congress come to appreciate the military aid and armed sales, israel and the u.s. have common threads and shared ideals and our military benefits both countries, if confirmed, would you do all you can do strengthen and deepen even further these military to military efforts of cooperation between our country sns. >> senator, i would do all i could do to strengthen that. it has been one of the great success stories of the relationship and very much b benefitting both countries and will do everything i can to
continue to improve and strengthen that level of cooperation. >> that's encouraging. closer to home we have been doing our part in the state of indiana. the indiana national guard has a long standing relationship with the israeli defense forces since 2010 our guard has joined counterparts in israel in conducting combined training exercises, regularly traveled training in je reurusalem, my hometown, the urban training center which i know the idf has found helpful in preparing for their own defense. in 2016, guards participated in united front. it was conducted -- there were search and rescue operations
conducted. so i would ask that you seek more of these if confirmed which i think is highly probable. i would like to turn to the issue of the protect of peace. do you believe an acceptable agreement can be reached between the israeli government and the palestinians with mack mood abass at the helm? >> i would think so but the challenges are daunting. i would say he's rejected israel as a jewish state and the palestinian authority undoubtedly preferable to hamas and to their credit they have engaged with israel very productively in security matters but i still think they have positions inconsistent with
lasting peace. >> so you have spoken to the challenges. do you see a successor with whom we might be able to do business in a much easier fashion? maybe you could speak to what is perceived by some to be a chaotic success crisis occurring among palestinian leaders? >> there appears to be a crisis almost by definition when you have a president who has exceeded his elected term by i think it's seven or eight years now past his electoral mandate. i think -- i hope that there are a new generation of palestinians that want the same thing everybody wants which is a better life, better opportunity for their children and to live in peace. it would just seem obvious to me that they're out there and i
know some palestinians who are just like everybody else and i would venture that the vast majority just want what everybody in the world wants, and we have to do what we can to help foster both economically and politically the development of that political class and accompanying middle clas to try to draw out that type of leadership. >> yesterday as has been en mentioned prime minister netanyahu, drew out recognition as an israeli state, and security control west of the jordan river, what is meant by security control west of the jordan river? >> it's really analogue to the
naval control with regard to hamas. there's an extraordinary risk of weapons transfer in that area. if the israelis didn't block the flow into gaz za there would be more weapons than right now and i think the prime minister is concerned of a comparable flow of weapons out of jordan into a palestinian state and i think as it been explained to me an israeli red line in terms of their own security. i'm not a security expert but very important to the prime minister. >> this would likely require military forces on the ground in that area though. >> i don't know how control would be achieved again i'm not an expert in that but would require some military control over the border, yes. >> can you conceive palestinian
leaders who would be amenable to this sort of situation? >> not today. i think that ultimately it would be in their interests as well to stop the flow of arms into a state that ideally should be demilitarized. it should not be a deal breaker, but at this point i think the answer is no. >> what role might the saudis and andam -- am ratrates might play? >> i think as we heard yesterday in the prime minister speech seems to be far more amenable to pr productive discussions than in the past. it does not seem to be the third
rail as what it once was and just based upon what i heard it would seem to me that's a very productive avenue for future discussions. >> before turning to senatthe senator. he's talking about forever military presence, do you agree with that? >> yes. >> senator booker. >> thank you, mr. chairman. i want to thank you first of all for coming to my office yesterday. i really appreciate the respect you showed me and appreciated our conversation and especially the deputy of your love for state of israel something i admire. >> thank you. >> i want to zone in on some things already discussed but i have grave concerns about the volume and breadth of your past statements as we discussed a bit
in my office. you stated your testimony you regret some of these particularly hurtful language used not only against president obama but secretary clinton someone who spent her entire severe in service, two people who spent considerable amount of time in service, you talked about president obama engaging in plablade tent anti-semitism. >> when he accused wealthy donors of making cause with the -- i perceived it to be something anti-jewish -- >> but it wasn't just about that, it's a sick afan ttic
missions but senator mccain who gave a thought about israel, you called him an israel basher, you don't believe senator cain is an issue rail basher do you? >> no, i completely redact that statement. >> and former senator clinton, you talked about her having antisemitic sentiments, senator schumer, again someone who shares your depth of love for israel, but said no matter how he ultimately votes by making the decision such a close call, senator schumer is inviting the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich.
that obviously to me -- i tried to find other ambassadors post such as this who said such things that you would agree that were not just policy disagreements or just the heat of a politician. those are comments that demean the character of another human being, would you agree they were demeaning to the character of those individuals? >> i tried to criticize the words rather than the person, but i can certainly understand how it extended to the character. it was not intentional but i understand that. >> sir, you and i know from our histories know a lot about hate words, and know when people dismiss words, they are belittling the harm and damage that it could do to entire communities would agree with that?
>> i would. >> you also attacked the state department, with 100 year history of anti-semitism -- completely p completely due plis totouplisto statement. the state department has been antisemitic to israel the past 70 years. they really took issue with someone now who is going to be working with the state to cast such a broad net who make sacrifices, they write mr. friedman has accused mr. obama of anti-sent missem.
he has characterized supporters of jay street, as kapos. they say these are extreme radical positions. words like kapos resonate with me in particular because they reflect words again that you and i both know personally from our family histories how cruel, mean spirited that kind of language is. you understand that, right? >> i understand it, senator. in addition to understanding it, in the course of thousands of e-mails i received in response to those comments i received an
e-mail -- some were unrepetable, some were frightening, but another touching who survived the holocaust, he disagreed with me on the best tactics but felt i had invalidated the good faith of his positions and the last person in the world i would want to offend would be someone like that and it is something that i deeply regret. >> so your past comments to me, i understand that you're apologizing but we both know the difference between apology and atonement. >> i think apology might be the first step to atonement. >> yes, sir. you're looking in a position to be a diplomat at a time where you're entering the area of the globe that is delicate to say
the least which there is tremendous passion and heart invested which your love and my love of the state of israel often as you said earlier in your testimony a measured word the wrong way can have great ramifiations. >> yes. >> i have deep concerns, wrightiwriting them, thoughtful ones and not understanding the ramifications they could have. >> do you have intention to visit the best bank should you be confirmed as ambassador? >> if the state department rules are changed -- >> i appreciate you recognizing that. do you have intention to have visiting the temple mount? >> no. i never have visited. i've been to israel several times and never visited the temple mount.
>> thank you for letting me go over my time. >> senator rubio. >> let me begin by saying i find this whole process to be unreal, this sort of or deal you're being put through to account for all the words, given some to have groups this group jay street a few years ago invited the palestinian -- who justified the murder of jews as self-defense as a person they invited to speak at their conference, people who hold views i find to be a smear and mischaracterization, second thing i think you're confronting not in this hearing per se but at large is what is this orthodoxy, in the state, and somehow the united states needs to be a fair and balanced arbiter in this situation we're
facing in the middle east. i don't understand that, i really don't. my view is israel is our strongest ally in the region, we have the right to protect the jewish of their homeland. especially a of the the holocaust. the second point i would find sta startling, all these so-called professionals, i very rarely hear them stand up and speak vociferously. they are never never reluctant to step forward and condemn israel time and again. and this is what you are going to confront time and again. this whole dialogue around this is that you have somehow -- a
wholesale two-state resolution, you have said in a perfect world you would have two states peacefully side by side living next to one another. perhaps the least of which the existence of jew daya and -- to impose upon them a negotiated settlement outside the bounds of what the jewish people support and the interest of the nation of israel. as a jewish state. that is the key phrase, not justice ra just israel's right to exist, how are you going to negotiate a
peaceful negotiation with a neighbor who does not admit the right of your existence? how about young palestinians into a doctrine of hatred an justification and killing and murder of jews outrageously at a very young age. that's a big inpediment. another is to impose on israel a negotiate solution that other countries think are -- another big impediment the incitement of leaders. that doesn't make it into to the english presses. when they dedicate monuments to nothing but terrorists, when they explain what they're going to do on the temple rock incite
violence, i view these things as bigger impediments and i think it's not that you're opposed but recognize at this moment given the circumstances that exist and in that region in particular it is not likely to have that outcome and hopefully that will change, hopefully the palestinians will have better leadership, grow their economy and ten, 15, 20 years, five years, we all hope the situations will be better for that to occur, but the worst thing to do is to impose our most ally in the region that's bad for their security and future, is that an accurate characterization with regard to the two-state solution? >> i think it is, senator. >> i want to enter into the
record, a letter from the orthodox -- of america. >> without objection it is entered. >> your roll would be to advocate for and implement the policy of the president is that correct? >> 100% correct. >> so on any issue whether it's the location of the embassy, whether it's our position on any given matter, it is your job ultimately to be an advocate for the decisions made from the oval office band by this administration not your personal views. >> i would be an advocate for the same way as clients. my personal views are completely subordinate today t subordinated to the views of the board and the president. >> thank you mr. friedman for taking time to come and meet with me yesterday. i'm not going to relitigate the concerns that people have raised
about some of your statements with respect to senators and the former president. though i share those concerns. but, i'm concerned about an article that you wrote in november of 2015 talking about russia's intervention in syria where you held up that intervention as a model, and predicted that they would succeed in defeating isis, and the tig the title is "learn a lesson from russia." i would ask that it be entered into the record. >> without objection, it is entered. >> the fact to go after isis and their motives to hold up the assad regime and we have seen
since then their indiscriminate bombing of civilians in h aleppo, blowing up of aid workers, bombing of hospitals so i would ask do you still believe in the last year the russian military has done more to defeat isis than the united states? >> no. and my -- i was not intending to in any way praise russia. my point there was simply that russia had used isis as a platform, an excuse if you will to enter the region to prop up the assad regime. i thought it was a deplorable act. the point was that i simply lamented that the united states had not acted when threatened todto do when the president set the red line.
but much has changed and the united states has certainly done more to defeat aisis than russi. >> fight with two hands and a leg tied behind their backs vladimir putin might be a thug, but he knows how to execute a military plan and ultimately prevail. you refer today the global coalition to counter isil as a -- cowards, hypocrites left from behind from the american president. do you think that's conducive to securing partners in this fight against isil? >> no, i don't. i think it was a view i raised as a private person without that objective. >> so, i appreciate the comments
that you made about ensuring that israeli arabs are treated fairly. i appreciated that comment when you met with me yesterday. i've heard troubling stories from arab-americans who say they have were subject to -- my husband is of leb oneonese dece. >> i would be the ambassador for the benefit of arab-american as
well as other americans, and it's inexcusable to discriminate on their -- i would encourage them to have their own national security issues which i think we all respect but that's not a basis to engage especially against the american population in any process that would be s discriminate against that. >> thank you, you have written that israel's policy of schizophrenia while simultaneously bestowing citizenship simply isn't working, can you clarify if there are any certain circumstances under which citizens of israel should be
stripped of their benefits and what benefits you think could reasonably be removed? >> i think it was in the context of criminal activity, not on the basis of nationality certainly. just to be clear i don't support any active any in israel, this country or anywhere else that would be based upon one's nation of origin. >> how do you feel about the president's executive order on immigration? >> i accept the president's representation that it was a temporary ban to keep the country safe. >> even though he had not had any incidents from any of those seven countries that we could point to. >> senator, i was not involved in the order and don't have access to classified information. i'm sorry. >> thank you. i want to end by reading you
excerpts from a letter i received from a constituents in new hampshire, a great uncle who s survived the holocaust, my great uncle was born in 1920 in poland. he lost his mother and sister during the holocaust, he was only able to survive due to his talent of fixing watches. -- who lost so many loved ones if the holocaust would be disparaged by david friedman as a kapo or nazi collaborator for standing up what he believes is
right. what do i tell my constituents about the fact that you could represent her and that you're not disparaging people who have her views? >> i will be happy to give you -- give to you my number and i would apologize to her personally, i'm sorry she feels that way and i respect her feelings and would like to make amends. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> before turning to senator flake. first of all thank you for being here. i know we had a very good meeting. you're here today having to recant e recant every single strongly held belief that you have expressed, almost. i'm just curious about this job and its importance to you to be willing to recant every single
strongly held belief that you had. i just wonder if you would share that with us because it is interesting to listen. you have done a lot of that and i appreciate that and sometimes when people run for public office they say things and they have tom massage them, but this was fairly extraordinary and i would wonder if you would share why you're willing to do that. >> it would really will the fulfillment of a life's dream of a life's work, of a life of study of the people, the culture, the politics of israeli society. one of the great things i love about this country was the fact that it was the first country to recognize israel and stood with them thick and then through
many, many challenging circumstances. i believe that based upon my relationship with the country and its people i can be helpful, i can do good. i believe based on our relationship with our president i can help him get to the right place and as he said, to bring peace to the region. my views are my views. some of them i recant certainly the rhetoric and the inflammation that i've caused, the hurt that i've caused. i need to do a much better job going forward, i intend to and i will with regard to a diplomatic mission, it's very different than being a private citizen and writing articles but this is something i really want to do because i think i can do it well. and there's nothing more important to me than strengthening the bonds between
the united states and israel. >> senator flake. >> thank you mr. chairman. thank you mr. friedman. >> let's continue on that theme for a minute. how important is it that congress has really been the bull work of support for israel other the years. you mentioned in my office that it's congress that's the enduring institution that's supported israel and has always been marked by bipartisanship. can you talk about the importance of that? >> i can, senator. i think it's been the exception rather than the rule that the congress has divided over an issue like israel. israel really is not a political issue for the united states, it's very much a moral issue. the united states stands with israel obviously because israel and the united states have common interests militarily,
technology, economically, but first and foremost it's on the basis of shared values and shared values are not political, shared values are that direct connection that the two countries have, commitment to democracy human rights to biblical values and to me it would be greatly disappointing if i could not help departisanize if that's a word the united states' relationship with israel. >> thank you let me address for a second the comment yesterday with prime minister's visit. some of the comments made some people record we are no longer committed the country to a two-state solution. that's been addressed at length. but one aspect of it. do you see for one, i don't see that break. i think the frame work most
likely to produce lasting peace is two-state solution, but is there any likelihood at all that our fundamental principals is that the parties themselves through direct negotiations arrive at a solution, is there any likelihood that the parties would adopt anything other than a two-state solution? i would just like your thoughts on that. >> i've seen no evidence of an appetite by the palestinians to a one-state solution. but i guess i would say if it happens, we'll notice it but i haven't seen it yet. >> but bedrock principal is still negotiations between the parties and not have a solution imposed by an outside organization, be it the general
assembly, security council or any outside body, including the united states. >> that's correct senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator martin. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman, thank you for being here today and for your willingness to serve. i think building off of the opening question from senator flake, the reason many of us are asking you these detailed questions about statements that you have made in the past about those who have sometimes been supportive of diplomatic engagements in the region have not always been supportive of the positions netanyahu has taken, it used to be something democrats and republicans we had differences but it was for support of keeping israel out of
the political playing feel and the very short time i've been n public service, it's gone to an a political issue trying to divide us. your nomination as one of the strongest partisans on the issue of israel being willing to call democrats all sorts of terrible names suggests that we are in for another really rough stretch when it comes to trying to heal those divisions and i appreciate what you said, but if that was really the intent of this administration, there are frankly a lot of other people who would have been better suited to play that role. so i do want to ask some questions here. i think senator corker is right to ask about you know the
exceptional level of recantations and reversionals and i guess it's something durc different to regret words than it is to actually change your underlying opinion, so let me make sure on probably your most controversial statement i have this right. when you said that jay street and supporters of jay street are worse than kapos i hear you say you regret those words but have you changed your opinion on that matter? >> i have profound differences of opinion with the jay street organization. i don't think that will change. my regret that i did not express those views respectfully, recognizing that they are very much as entitled as i am to have a different view. my regrets are as to the language and the rhetoric. i'm not withdrawing my personal
views as to the organization. >> is your personal view still that jay street and its supporters are worse than the kapos of the world war ii era? >> no, it's not my view. >> okay. let me ask you about the word anti-semi, you have thrown it around to describe actions of the obama administration and draw distinctions, the pushback on that is that phrase is a description of motivations. it's a description about what lies in someone's heart the idea that someone hates jews and carries out actions based upon those beliefs. i want to make sure that you believe in calling my words or
my actions anti-semitic that you are calling me anti-semitic. >> i don't agree with that senator. >> why? >> because i think someone would inadvertently unintentionally say something perceived by someone with a long history of being exposed to anti-semitism as being antisemitic intentional or with good intentions, some are uterred by one and perceived by the other, the speaker and the recipient are on different pages. >> but perception is in the eye of the beholder, you're saying that the phrase antisemitic is owned by the person who hears the words, it's not about the motivation of the individual, so my motivations have nothing do with whether my actions or my
words can be described legitimately as anti-semitic. >> words can be legitimately perceived as anti-semitic even though the speaker would have harbor none. >> even if you believe in my heart i have no desire to discriminate against jews? >> i can see challenging the words without challenging the motivations of the speaker. >> another one of your mort controversial statements was your hope that donald trump would fire individuals in the state department who have opposed policies that you and he have espoused such as moving the embassy. president trump through his
press secretary has said those in the department of state that don't agree with the president's viewpoints should get on board or get out. and has suggested that the typical means of expressing dissent within their department or state are no longer legitimate. you either agree with the president or have no place in the administration which would topple decades of precedent within the department. your statements suggest you agree with that that the president should fire individuals who don't agree with positionening. is that also a statement that you recant and have reversed, would you try to seek the ouster of individuals working for the embassy that don't agree with your viewpoints? >> no, senator. i think any executive has a right to have people that support -- willing to execute his views however they feel.
obviously within the state department there's tens of thousands of people who are entitled to their opinions and have differing views. at certain levels the president is entitled to have people report to him who are prepared to execute his directives on foreign policy. he's the commander in chief, the chief executive and i think he has that right. >> given that you will be running an embassy, you're going to have a lot of civil servants served the country well, there will be positions military officers, le yiaisons, what lev has to believe in their heart the same as you in order to maintain their position? >> in my case, i think none, i'm not making policy, i'm simply observing the directives of the president so whether they agree with me or not in the embassy i think is completely irrelevant. >> thank you for your
willingness to serve and welcome your family and patience through this endurance test of a hearing. i appreciate the chance to talk about the leadership opportunities we have with the united states and israel and our great opportunities between the two both from a security standpoint and economic standpoint. the last time i was in israel to visit with senator cardin, markly, about a year ago if that's correct. the first time i had the opportunity to visit israel was i think august of 2011 with a few other members of congress and we went to idf headquarters and visited with a general i believe at the time of israeli planning division. one of the -- my colleagues asked a simple question i thought was simple to the general at the time and was is your view of u.s. foreign policy in the region?
and after about 45 seconds or a himming and hauing and trying to avoid the question my colleague said please just give us the answer you're not going to offend us. the general spent several minutes frightening us and talking about his answer and his answer was simply this, they didn't know what the foreign policy was, didn't know where the united states would be tomorrow because they didn't understand who your friends were and would be. that was 2011. there was a lot happening in that timeframe. some time later i hat the opportunity to go back. the general had no reason to remember me but i was able to ask him the same question, what is your view of u.s. foreign policy in the region? and i was startled with the same answer today mr. friedman, what would you say israel view's the u.s. foreign policy as and what do you believe can be
accomplished as ambassador to israel they would walk away with firm commitment the united states has to our great ally friend israel? >> i think the most important thing in the relationship between our two countries is something that i picked up this morning or late last night in the readout from the meeting between the prime minister of israel and the president which is there be no daylight between the two countries, doesn't mean no disagreements but israel has no other friends like the united states. sometimes they don't have any friends at all other than the united states. and when the rest of the world sees that the united states and israel are not aligned, they -- there's a risk they will become more aggressive against israel. so i think loyalty and respect and no daylight is -- i think everything else is sort of
details and can get worked out. and it's what i think israel needs from us and i think that's where the president is now. >> thank you mr. friedman. the strategic out look for israel in the region, where are we going with iran right now? i don't know if you have had an opportunity to address the stability of jordan, obviously key to security in israel. could you talk a little bit about the strategic out look in the region. >> the gulf states, egyptians, jordanians are all united common concern of iran, i think without relitigating the iran deal it's no secret i was very much
against the iran deal, but sitting here today, iran just recently tested ballistic missiles i'm not sure why anyone would have a ballistic missile except to deliver a nuclear war head. they continue to provoke the united states as the prime minister of israel said yesterday they write in he brbr on their missiles destroy israel. israel doesn't have the distance between itself and iran that we have. and we all know how nervous they are about it and i think all the other states are as well. i don't think this is something that i will be engaged on, but i certainly support the president's view that we need the reinstitute leverage on iran to hold them to the very jcpoa which says iran will not develop
or acquire a nuclear weapon, not sure what the other pages are, given that first page i'm not sure why we need another 90 but that's the page we ought to be focussing on and enforcing as hard as we can. >> thank you. when we were in israel with senator cardin's delegation, porum. as the celebration was taking place you could hear the voices participating in that holiday right by the iron dome facility, so i think the mention of daylight between our two nations is important and that we have to spend time, the united states and israel assuring and restating the fact that there is no daylight between our two nations and i look fromorward t
working with you to make that happen. >> congratulations on the nomination and welcome to your family. you're a lawyer. and as a lawyer, you have obligations to clients. could you describe what's your obligation to any client. >> zealous advocacy -- >> faith and fidelity? >> absolutely. >> who is your client if you ultimately achieve and confirm your position? >> i pledge the constitution of the united states. >> in that context it is the national interest and security of the united states that one would pledge fidelity to is that not correct. >> yes, sir. >> in that context, you know you have presented yourself here and in our very long private
conversation as someone who is smart and measured and temperate. yet, i get a sense that your love for the state of israel overwhelmed your language which was not necessarily temperate at the end of the day, so the question is we cannot have an ambassador who ultimately will be moved as much as they may be passionate about the country they are being sent to or by the prime minister of that country as much as we may have the greatest of relationships will not bend their will to that but will bend their will to the nas national security of the united states. can you tell this committee that is in fact what your commitment is? >> that is 100% and to no one
else. >> you have rejected some of the past comments. in some cases i have heard you use the words you have apologized to individuals. i take your rejection rejectionf what you said, also an apology to those who may be affronted by them, is that correct? >> yes. >> when you came to see me, i was quite interested in hearing from you, unsolicitedly -- i asked you many questions -- but unsolicitedly you spoke about promoting economic development in the west bank and helping to build a strong palestinian middle class. we haven't heard a lot about that today. can you talk to me a little bit about that? >> there is business activity in the west bank. there are businessmen in the west bank who are building industries. the unemployment rate in the
west bank is too high. the only way i can think to bring it down is to foster that type of industry. i would like to work with israel to make the commercial environment in the west bank less burdensome. there are issues of water, there are issues of electricity, there are issues of the movement of goods and services. there is also obviously security consideratio considerations over everything else. security can be less object ttr than it's been in the past. i think with the egyptians, the jord jordanians to improve the economy, i think we could look to the western nations to help. >> so some of the ultimate efforts, the underpinnings necessary to achieve the peace that we all desire, it would be
fair to say that in one context, building the economic livelihood and abilities of palestinians to realize their hopes and dreams and aspirations is an important one, is that not fair? >> i think it might be the most important one. >> and you share in that to the extent that the administration and the congress are are seeking to pursue those goals, you share those goals as well, i would assume? >> i do. >> now, you elected out of your statement, i guess for purposes of time, something that i found interesting. you supported an entity called united hotsala -- i don't know if my pronunciation is right -- but an organization of volunteers to provide emergency services and save lives. what makes sala so special is it
is comprised of volunteers from the israeli population, jews, muslims, christians, religious right and left secular, right and left wing. they all act in the same credo. never let any other considerations, political, religious or otherwise, influence your commitment to saving lives. and you go on to say, sala represents the best of the israeli people. does hodzala capture the essence of your feelings toward both palestinians and israelis? >> it does, senator. in fact, i was in israel this past summer at a session of the kinesa when an eight-year-old boy gave an award to a muslim volunteer at united hozala. the muslim volunteer had pulled his mother from a burning car a year and a half earlier and saved her life, and the jewish
boy gave this award to a muslim volunteer for saving his mother's life. i don't think there was a dry eye in the house, and again, this organization, because of the way it operates represents the very best of all the israeli people. it gives me great hope and optimism for the future. >> do you believe that the life of a palestinian child is of the same value as the life of a jewish child? >> absolutely. >> you believe the dignity of a palestinian woman is the same as the dignity of a jewish woman? >> i sure do. >> do you believe that palestinians ultimately have a right in some form or fashion to self-governing themselves? >> i do. >> in addition to pursuing the national interests and security of the united states, i assume that whatever personal interests that you may have in israel that you will warrant those off as
well that it won't be an issue? give up my reed to give up my business interests. >> some may think this is a nomination conversion versus a true process towards atonement for some of the things that may have been said in an idealogical war and in a political context and environment, and that they are just for the purposes of achieving the goal of getting your nomination through. what would you say to that? to those who are thinking that as they sit here. >> senator, i'm sitting here under oath taking that all seriously. my views are entirely heartfelt. >> and so what you have told me in response to my questions is what you have in your heart, what you have in your mind, and what you will do if, in fact,
you are confirmed by the senate? >> that's correct. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> senator paul. >> welcome, mr. freedman. congratulations on your nomination. >> thank you. >> i think sometimes there is a presumption that america knows best, is in charge of everything and that we're going to tell everybody the way things are going to be, and i think it sort of ignores the sovereignty of other nations and the opinions of other nations, frankly, particularly in the peace process that we've decided what the peace process is since 1947 and it doesn't look like there's peace yet, so maybe there ought to be some other thoughts. i'm not here to say what the best peace process is, but i would say that maybe sometimes we need to take a step back and realize that any kind of peace process is going to have to take agreement from both sides, and that what both sides of the conflict think is probably more important than us. it doesn't mean we shouldn't have any role, but i don't think we should be so presumptious as to dictate the role.
the same would apply to settlements. we all have our own opinion. i know you have your opinion on settlements, but it's also not our country, and we don't live there. i'm not saying it's not our problem, but i'm just saying i'm not sure the united states should dictate this. that being said, i think we ought to be aware of the ramifications of policy, and we can voice our -- you know, our opinions on these, and i think yours have been very strong that, you know, in favor of settlement. my question is, and this has come up recently in a press conference. president trump has actually sort of voiced some hesitancy to the 5,400 new units in the west bank skpch bank. and while i'm not here to say what my opinion is or what the government should do, i would say we should account for and think about what 5400 new settlements in the west bank do to the possibility of peace. are you aware of what the ramifications are and there's another side to the settlement issue rather than just saying,
hey, we should build everywhere all the time? >> yer >> yes, i am. >> i think that's the open-mindedness that people want to hear, that you're open to ramifications and that you'll listen. we think everybody thinks alike in israel. if anything they have more diversity of opinion and thought than we do on issues of israel, i would say. and we need to understand that, and your job as ambassador is to understand, you know, that maybe a third of the population of israel, maybe 40%, i don't know the number, but a significant number don't want new settlements in the west bank, either. but i think your job will be to report that to the president and to let him know the different viewpoints within israel, what are the ramifications of new settlement even if we don't get a say. now, the capitol is a little bit different. israel gets to decide the capitol of the country. as you and i discussed, we talked about moving it to jerusalem. nobody else has an embassy there, right? >> correct. >> there will be ramifications if we move it.
what i want to know is are you a thoughtful individual? will you think about the ramifications? will we think to ourselves long and hard that if be we do move embassy there and a thousand soldiers die because of it or somehow americans are caught up in it, will it have been something that was worth our while if we do it for the symbolism of it if people die because of it, and will you think through the ramifications of that and advise the president that there's more than one side to the issue? >> yes, senator. the decision obviously will be made by the president, and i'm confident he will -- and i would support him considering all the political security and other ramifications associated. >> i don't put myself out as an expert or someone who has an answer to middle east peace. i wish i did. but having traveled there once, i have an opinion like everyone else, and my opinion basically is it is elusive, and i think i'm fairly justified in that, but i would say that i came back from israel thinking that our
best hope is incremental change. and i think it's an equation where israel does hold most of the cards and most of the power. they have an unparalleled military, and i don't think things will change militarily. these are facts on the ground. i would say there is a chance for improvement but it's going to be incremental. one of the things, i met with palestinian businessmen, some of the ones you referred to in general, i don't know about specific, recently. they mentioned the area c in the bank, and area c is about 80% of the west bank and they feel like they don't have access to it. that they're forbidden from drilling for water, drilling for minerals, setting up enterprises where they make more money. my advice would be to meet with palestinian business men and women, listen to them and say, gosh, if this is a way we can lessen tension and hostility between the groups, why don't we see if there is a way palestinians can make more
money? there are a lot of things that isn't the ultimate and final agreement which is elusive that we could do. i want to know you're open-minded enough to say, you know what, the less we have war, the less we have traction. are you open to lessening the hostility? >> i would be happy to have those discussions. >> there is some of that here between the different parties. some that can be done over there, but i think it's important that you project to them that you are open-minded on these things because you have had -- and i have strong opinions, too, so the thing is having strong opinions isn't always a fault. but i would say that you have to show people that you're open-minded enough to be a diplomat which means hearing from, talking to both parties and understanding the complexity of the ramifications of every little policy that happens over there. >> i will, senator. thank you. >> thank you. >> thank you, sir.
senator markey. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. freiedman, in our office we talked about a two-state solution, we talked about what may be possible. you said it was the gold standard. but in our conversation, and perhaps you could help me to kind of flesh this out a little bit further, you mentioned a scenario under which the west bank could be incorporated into israel. and that the country would still maintain its jewish and democratic identity. could you go through that scenario and how you look at those numbers and how you would view that as an alternative? >> senator, i don't view it as an alternative. i think -- at least to me the discussion was more in the
hypothetical. but i think there was a general conventional wisdom that israel can either be jewish or democratic but not both under that type of a scenario. i don't know the demographics of the west bank well enough. there are multiple studies that have been done. i think demographics of the west bank are a very important part of working forward. and i think we ought to both have the same data. the swings of population assumptions go from a million and a half arabs to 3 million. at a million and a half arabs, it's one scenario, at 3 million it could be another, and i don't know which is true or if some number in the middle is true. i'm not sure it matters. i was speaking really in the hypothetical. but because demographics matter for this discussion, we ought to have a good day of it.
i would try to get better data on those demographics. >> ultimately do you think the palestinians would accept a solution that had the west bank incorporated into israel, and then if the demographics was such that then they remained in the minority and that gaza was excluded from a final agreement? do you think there is a scenario under which the palestinians could accept a deal that created that new entity and kept the palestinians in a permanent minority within that greater israel that would have been created? >> i can't imagine that either israel or the palestinians would accept a scenario where there were different rights for different citizens in terms of whether the palestinians were in the majority or the minority. i couldn't speak for them. i would only point out that
israel itself has a very good track record of providing good education, health care, commercial opportunities, human rights, rights to the lbgtq community, support to women's rights. it's very good to its palestinian citizens, so that might be something that the palestinians and west bank might be attracted to, but i would never speak for them. >> so you don't personally support israeli annexation of the west bank? >> no, i do not. >> you do not. you're saying that would have to be part of an agreement. >> as the president stated, all of this has to be agreed to by the parties or else it won't proceed. >> yeah. because it's hard for me to envision a situation where the palestinians would allow a division where the west bank was part of the agreement and gaza and its residents did not have rights that were vested with the citizens of that part of the
palestinian population. what are -- if you could, you talked about the two-state solution as the best possibility. can you give us another possibility in your mind that you think could unfold in terms of an agreement that could be reached between the israelis and the palestinians. >> sit here today, i don't have a better option. >> you do not have a better option. >> no, i don't. >> i know this terrain has already been traveled in the hearing, but if i could, i'd like to go out and just talk a little bit about the -- that l settlement and some of the comments from people who are out there. the l is training students, for example, to successfully delegitimize the notion of a
two-state solution and creating facts on the ground in the face of the international community's desire to uproot us. can you talk about comments like that coming out of that l community in romala and your views on those comments in terms of its implications for reaching a two-state solution? >> i think they're a challenge among many to achieving a two-state solution. i should point out that my affiliation with batel is as president of the american friends of batel yoshiba center, and we support a boys high school and a girls high school. the quality of those schools are excellent, and everything we've given money to has been in the nature of gymnasiums, dormitories, dining rooms, classrooms, things like that. so my philanthropic activity
there has not been connected to their political activity which i really had no part in. >> if the land in batel was included in a two-state solution and that land had to be returned to the palestinians, would you support the return of that land to the palestinians? >> in the context of a fully agreed-to two-state solution? >> yes. >> yes. >> you would? >> yes. >> thank you. >> i have some questions i refrained from asking until the very end, but i know senator ca cartman has some questions. >> if i could, with no disrespect to the chairman, i have a commitment, so when i ask these one or two questions, i'm going to ask for your patience and tell you once again thank you for your commitment to the united states. it comes across very clearly from your testimony and i just want to underscore that. the white house said we don't
agree that settlements are an impediment to peace. the expansion beyond their current borders may not be helpful in creating that goal. what is your view in expansion of settlements or new settlements? >> i think expansion of settlements to new territories are beyond borders. i agree with the president, they may not be helpful, and i think it makes sense to tread very carefully in that area. >> thank you. last point, and i think i'll ask this for the record. we've been talking a lot about the west bank but very little about gaza. gaza is much more difficult than the west bank. we had a chance in my office to talk a little bit about gaza, but just so you put that on the record. i might ask you a couple questions for the record, because it is a complicated situation is how you deal with gaza if you don't have a viable two-state process moving forward. >> i saw the headline you had
written about the two-state solution being somewhat of an illusion. yesterday with others i had a meeting with prime minister netanyahu who we all respect greatly. i listened to him say -- i'm not going to say what he said in a private meeting, but it was very much along the same lines that he constantly has said publicly, and in past comments has referred to the fact that pat st -- palestinians are willing to accept what exists. it's very hard to have a two-state solution. then went on to say you don't want to have two responsibilities on the security of israel, and there's not a time you can see in the future, ever, where there is not military presence by the israelis in the west bank. we keep talking about the west
bank because it's the place that is most likely for something good to happen. gaza, obviously, is way beyond that. i do wonder, especially after yesterday, but also seeing all of the many efforts that have been put in place around the two-state solution, i know tony blair -- i don't know how many times he's been to the area. i think he told me once, i heard him speak, he had been there 160 times, and his wife made the joke, tony, it's not the amount of effort, it's the result. and of course there's been none. are we helping the situation by continually talking about a two-state solution when having a military presence in the west
bank ad infinitur in israel is different than a two-state solution? it's a serious question, and i'm beginning to wonder whether we're actually verbalizing this in the appropriate manner. it's not a gotcha question, it's an honest question. i know you've expressed very strong feelings. i sometimes think that we hear in a public arena talk about things and keep holding something out regarding many conflicts around the world that maybe is not achievable based on the facts on the ground. i'm just wondering what your observation would be regarding that. >> senator, it's wren who gave us life to the two-state solution. he himself said his vision was for -- i think he used the term state minus or something like that. i think the challenges here are
israel security and the palestinians' quality of life. i don't know if the palestinian people at this juncture care more about the flag over their heads who is leading them as they care about reducing the unemployment rate down from an ungovernable level to a manageable level. i've heard palestinians decry their leadership and they're no friends of israel, either. i suspect that the key to the region is economic empowerment, not political debates. and that's why i guess until i'm proven wrong, which could be soon, i would work to try to improve the economic levels. >> i absolutely think that is something that needs to occur, and in my last trip there speaking with prime minister
ramala, that certainly is the focus. the flip side of that is when you know you've got settlement out here and you've got to have security around those settlements. it's very difficult to do commerce in between. i mean, it's -- let's face it, it's more than burdensome. it's not -- i'm not criticizing, i'm just observing that it's very difficult to do commerce when you're dealing with that. so, again, back to it. what would be a better way of describing the vision there? because a state that has ad infinitum forever sort of milita military -- for realistic security measures has the military of another country in it, what would we call that? state minus is not a particularly good description. i think that we talk about this,
we use rhetoric that i'm beginning to believe is unrealistic rhetoric. and i don't know that it's useful in getting to a solution when you're describing something that to me is becoming more and more unrealistic for many, many reasons. i'm not casting blame. >> and senator, i don't have a good answer to your question and i certainly don't have a good word to articulate a vision. it's an enormous challenge. it's a very big rubik's cube that we all try to wrestle with every day, and i take the medical approach even though i'm not a doctor to this, which is let's not make it worse, let's do no harm and then let's try to make it better. i think that's the only advice i have right now. >> and i think your response on the settlement indicates that. let me ask you this, do you think that prime minister
netanyahu has been very clear on this for many years. you know israel well. do you think the vision of military presence in the west bank forever is the general view of sort of the mainstream of kinesit there? >> i think the control of the jordan valley is something which people on the left and the right agree upon. i think that is the single most important feature of any palestinian state. it doesn't mean that has to be military embedded within the communities or even the towns, but at the perimeter, i do believe that on the left and the right, there is unanimity that there must be control of the perimeter. >> it seems to me that if that is the case, and i agree with you, i think that's the case, it just seems to me that we're at a point in time where we ought to
be discussing the future. at least the future for the next 20 or 30 years, anyway, in a different way. and i don't know exactly how to describe that, either. but it just seems to me that in addition to having a partner that is not a real partner on the palestinian side that there are -- there is a vision on the israeli side that is not fully compatible with what we would normally describe as a two-state solution. again, it's just an observation, and it seems to me that we would be better off as a rural community to talk about it in terms that are different than we're talking about it right now. >> well, senator, you heard the president yesterday use the term "a larger canvas." i haven't had the chance to
speak with him about that and flush out those concepts, but i think certainly an open mind, a commitment to peace above all else to improve qualities of life is a step in the right direction. >> you've been here a while. i thank you for being here willing to serve. there will be questions available at close friday. my sense is you'll want to answer those quickly. with no further comments, the meeting is adjourned. thank you. >> thank you.
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