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tv   Israeli Ambassador Nominee David Friedman Testifies at Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  February 19, 2017 10:35am-11:25am EST

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economy, a lot of this will fall away. tonight at 9:00 p.m. eastern on afterwards. watch c-span as president donald trump delivers an address to the joint houses of congress. president trump: this is going to be the biggest -- the busiest congress we have ever had. >> listen live on the free c-span radio app. hearing confirmation for david friedman, the nominee for u.s. ambassador to israel. he appeared last week before the senate foreign relations committee, where he was asked about israel and the middle east peace process. fromso addressed concerns lawmakers about the rhetoric to use during the 2016 presidential election, while working as a campaign adviser. this is just over two and a half hours.
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er: the cornyn: -- cork
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foreign relations committee will come to order. we welcome mr. david friedman, nominated to the ambassador to israel. we also welcome two very distinguished guests, a member and a former member that have tremendous respect from all of us up here. we thank you for coming. we're going to defer our opening comments so you don't have to sit through that. we will let you go ahead and introduce. i taught 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've asked some people to be removed, and as it turned out, they were arrested. i was able to get them un-arrested 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. don't put yourself in a position to need to be removed. we thank everybody for being here as part of our democratic process. we're glad to have everybody here. with that, let me turn to a friend to all of us, the great senator from the state of south carolina, senator lindsey graham. sen. graham: thank you. to the protesters, i'm a lawyer.
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i come to you if you do get cheap if youi come do get arrested, but you get what you pay for. sen. corker: speaking of lawyers. mr. friedman is described as a dealmaking and cropsey lawyer, and also a very good trial lawyer. i can't think of a better choice to go to the middle east than a bankruptcy lawyer, except maybe a divorce lawyer. i haven't known mr. friedman that long, personally, but i've known him by reputation as being a very passionate supporter of the state of israel. everybody 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
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against israel for their settlement policy and six against the world at large, they've sort of lost their way. but i think it is ok 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 very troubled region and they are not beyond criticism. you can be pro-israel and criticize the government or the policies of any particular government. 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 apac, j street, and the rjc. all of them believe they are pro-israel and the other groups
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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, and what is encouraging to me that mr. friedman has said, maybe i need to watch my rhetoric. that is why i believe he is the right guy at the right time. he will be trump's voice. from won the election. -- trump won the election. 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 trump's view of the u.s.-israel relationship, that is qualified, that he has the experience, and the passion, and the skill set to the americas voice, not just trump's voice. to my democratic colleagues, i know what it's like to be disappointed in an election outcome.
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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's been effective as a lawyer, that his reputation as a lawyer is beyond reproach, and what does a good lawyer do? a good lawyer tries to take people with different views to get to a win-win situation. to represent your client with passion, but also to understand that the other side has an interest too.
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when you look at his career as a lawyer, those on the other side of mr. friedman would say that he's an honest, ethical, capable advocate that you can do business with. i believe he will bring that skill set to the job of u.s. ambassador to israel. the only democracy in a region that is falling apart. if israel ever needed a strong voice in her court, it 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. sen. corker: thank you very much. now, a senator that again is loved on both sides of the aisle and missed, was a strong and great voice for our country's national security and foreign policy issues. we welcome joe lieberman.
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thank you for being here today. sen. lieberman: thanks, mr. chairman. i was actually looking forward to the opening statement you were going to make. sen. corker: you still act like a politician. [laughter] sen. lieberman: my wife says i have an incurable disease. like all the rest of us. chairman carter and senator cardin, 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 ambassador to israel. after i left the senate in 2013, i became senior counsel at the law firm of friedman, as in david friedman. probably neither david nor i thought we would both be here this morning at that time, when i joined the firm.
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but i have in those four years come to know david, first as a legal copy, and i've learned a lot from him. he has extraordinary professional skills that will serve him well as ambassador. i'm thinking of really great intelligence, a warm personality that engages trust, and an impressive 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've accomplished something. now that i say that, i may want to suggest that congress detain david. i couldn't resist that. beyond our association in the law firm, david and i have become good personal friends.
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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 sainted wife, who said we've got to find another place nearby to stay when we're visiting our children and grandchildren. it happens that david and tammy
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friedman live a 10 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 -- incidentally, my children are now in pikesville, the birthplace and growing place in baltimore of senator cardin. >> they chose well. sen. lieberman: and they have a much bigger house. we have our own room now. i thought 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 their family. they have the best values. tammy is a bright, compassionate, very likable
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person, who will be, i believe as great a partner in diplomacy, if david is confirmed as ambassador, as a partner to him in life. during those weekends with the friedmans, david and i had a lot of time to talk about things. i reached some conclusions about him that i think are relevant to his nomination, that i want to share in just a few sentences. first, he is a patriotic, proud, and grateful american. grateful for the opportunities of 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.
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as i suggested earlier, i don't think david ever dreamed he would be nominated to the americas ambassador to israel, but he probably never dreamed that one of his clients would end of as president of the united states either. the fact that he has such a close personal relationship with the president, a 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, but 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,
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and even funny david friedman i know. has david ever said or written anything that he wishes now 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 mind. if he has said something in the past that bothers you, ask him about it, but put it in the larger context of his life, character, capability, and his deep desire to serve our country. from many long conversations we've had over the years, i can tell you that david friedman doesn't only pray for peace between israel and its neighbors
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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. and if i may, i do want to say that i hope that support will be bipartisan. it would be a shame to have this committee and the senate divided along party lines on a matter so central to america's relationship with israel, which has historically and importantly 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'm very
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proud to introduce david friedman to you and the committee. sen. corker: thank you so much. we appreciate both of you being here and your comments. you are welcome to leave. we do not consider that impolite. if you stay, it is likely you will be interrogated, so i would leave. let me make a brief opening comment. i know we have a vote at 10:30 that will drag on for a while. hopefully we can get through mr. friedmans opening comments, take a break, and come back for questioning. i want to welcome mr. friedman to the committee to discuss his nomination to be our ambassador to israel. over the last 70 years, the united states and israel have enjoyed a close and meaningful relationship. this 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 and is our most important ally in the region. american support for israel is a widespread bipartisan effort and should remain so.
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congress has repeatedly pushed for increased military aid and security cooperation between our 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. yet 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 nations has been strained in recent years. it is clear that action taken by the un security council in december was counterproductive to reaching a long-term peace between israel and the 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.
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in a neighborhood torn apart by terrorism and civil war, the disproportionate focus on israel by the u.n. runs counter to the organization's stated goals. with these challenges in mind and the onset of a new administration, 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 about how you will promote increased cooperation between our nations, your views on the to-state solution, and other avenues toward peace, and how you will be an effective instrument for achieving the policy goals of the united states. we thank you for being here. i will turn to sen. cardin. sen. cardin: thank you. we thank you for your willingness to serve the public in this critically important
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decision as the united states ambassador to israel. this relationship is a strategic anchor for the united states in the middle east. it is a deep and genuine friendship that extends across our government and enriches ties. your nomination comes at a critical point for israel and for the u.s.-israel relationship. as i know my colleagues appreciate, israel finds itself in a sea of instability, confronted with threats on every border. to the south, isis and the sinai continues to be a serious security threat despite improved cooperation with egypt. last week, isis militants launched a barrage of rockets. to the west, hamas maintains a stronghold in gaza, diverting materials intended for civilians to rebuild its rocket arsenal
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and construct terror tunnels. to the north, hezbollah is gaining data field experience in syria that will be focused on israel when the fighters returned to lebanon. to the east, the war in syria is a magnet for violent extremists, and iran maintains a strategic corridor with a willing assad to express the force in lebanon. regimes continue to spew anti-somatic and anti-israel rhetoric, sponsoring terror groups that pose a direct threat to israel's security. in contrast to its neighbors and at a time when forces of authoritarianism are on the rise in too many places, israel is and remains a vibrant democracy. it is home to a lively civil society, and energetic political discourse.
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its vibrant and diverse economy offers tremendous opportunities for its high-tech sector and a startup culture. our defense sector has collaborated to produce a life-saving missile-defense system. israel's innovative energy sector, one of the leaders in the world, puts israel in a position to be an energy provider to the region. the u.s. ambassador to israel plays a key role in engaging all communities within israel, all sectors of its economy, and representing our government and the american people. the u.s. ambassador also plays a vital role in opening 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 and effectively counter the bbs movement which threatens the legitimacy of israel and fosters anti-semitism.
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given the depth and complexity of the issues included in the portfolio of the u.s. ambassador to israel, i have questions about your preparedness for this post. i'm uncertain of how you will represent all americans to all israelis and whether you are committed to a long-standing u.s. policy for a two state solution. the last 10 ambassador to israel, across administrations, all 10 had prior u.s. government experience. nine had prior professional experience in the middle east and eight had already served at least once as a u.s. ambassador to other countries. i don't question that your background as a lawyer has enabled you to develop skills navigating complex negotiations, but serving as the top diplomat to one of the most important
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allies in the region beset by violent conflict and terrorist groups, requires a distinct set of skills and temperament. frankly, 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 senator lieberman's 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 equate j street supporters with nazi collaborators were questioning their love for israel. calling the anti-defamation league morons. saying that liberal jews suffer from cognitive disconnect in identifying good from evil. and i could mention your specific comments about president obama or your specific comments about members of the senate, including the democratic leader, and i would ask that you respond to that.
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these are written comments, cases where you had the opportunity to consider what you were saying, to make judicious edits. you chose otherwise. i hope you will offer a clear and unequivocal rejection of these inflammatory accusations as part of your testimony 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'm also concerned that your views on the two-state solution constitute a break with u.s. policy. republican and democratic administrations have promoted to states living in peace and security, a democratic israel, jewish state, and a demilitarized palestinian state. we deny service from your writing include, your august 22, 2016 piece entitled "end the two-state narrative," where you call it a damaging --
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anachronism, illusory solution in search of a nonexistent problem. you state that 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 in gaza in a one-state solution. i hope you will be clear on what your views are in regards to a realistic, sustainable solution to the conflict. finally, your record of financial support for settlements far outside the blocks presumed to join israel with mutually agreed land swaps are troubling.
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the webpage for the gala dinner last year in support of the settlement explicitly states that it is creating facts on the ground and notes a new initiative to train students, legitimating the notion of a two-state solution. in an august 2015 piece, you wrote, the state of israel went through an extraordinary internal angst, compelling the evacuation of 8000 brave jewish souls in the gaza strip. does anyone really think that israel has the political will to do the same to many hundreds of thousands of residents of judaism samaria? these are not people on the fringes of israeli society. they are completely integrated and served in the most elite units of the army. they will never be forced to leave their homes. even president trump said last week, settlements don't help the process. there is so much land left and every time you take land for settlements, there's less land
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left. i hope you will clarify your views on settlements, won the two-state solution, and the comments you made about my colleagues and others during the course of this hearing. my commitment to israel is unyielding. i believe it is a critical relationship for the united states and i worked to ensure there is a strong, stable, and mutually beneficial relationship between our countries. i'm confident of the committee and and support of my colleagues on the committee even though we have conflicting views as to how to carry out the commitment. mr. freedman, i look forward to your testimony. sen. corker: thank you. mr. friedman, we thank you for your willingness to serve. without objection, your written testimony will be entered 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 are welcome to introduce
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your wonderful family. i hope you will as a matter of fact. thank you. mr. friedman chairman, ranking member, members of the senate foreign relations committee, i appreciate very much the opportunity to appear before you. it is a great privilege to address this committee which has done so much to advance america's interest around the world -- >> mr. friedman also said that palestinian refugees don't have a connection to palestine, when in fact they do! mr. friedman, my grandfather was exiled from his house to the state of israel! i'm right here, mr. friedman, holding a palestinian flag, right behind you! we were there! we are there now! we will always be there! palestinians will always be palestine! mr. friedman: it is a great
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privilege to address this committee. together with the entire united states congress, has for generations detained unwavering support on a bipartisan basis for the state of israel. i'm grateful to the president of the united states for nominating me to the post of ambassador to israel and i'm humbled by the trust and confidence he's placed in me to strengthen the bond between our country and israel and to advance the cause of peace in the region. i would like to thank senators graham and lieberman for their kind words and introduction and for their leadership. i would like to introduce my family members and thank them for their support and encouragement. my beautiful bride of 36 years, tammy, and my children, tammy, daniel, and her husband. watching at home are daniel's wife, my son jacob, and his wife, who just had a baby boy. our daughter katie and our seven
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beautiful grandchildren. whatever success i've achieved in life would have been unthinkable without their support. i would like to wish good luck to my youngest child, katie, who is litigating her first mock trial today in high school. i could not continue without reflecting upon my father, who passed away 12 years ago. he was my mentor, my hero, and my closest friend. my father was a great patriot who felt an enormous gratitude to our beloved country for its essential goodness in giving his parents and so many others the enormous opportunities embedded in united states citizenship. in 1948, my father and mother sat at their radio, listening to the united nations. they rejoiced as the united states became the first nation to recognize israel. my father cared deeply for americans.
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he marched in the civil rights movement and convened prayer vigils to mourn the assassination of president kennedy and martin luther king. in the 1970's, he handcuffed himself to the soviet mission to protest the kremlin's refusal to allow soviet jews to emigrate. in 1984 -- >> mr. friedman -- palestinian land! mr. friedman is building a five-story apartment building in the west bank! mr. friedman will provoke conflict in israel and occupied territory! mr. friedman supports -- [inaudible] support palestinian lives! mr. friedman: in 1984, my father had the privilege to post ronald reagan for lunch with my mother doing the cooking. he addressed our synagogue.
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those were dark days at the united nations for israel. it operated under the cloud of a general assembly resolution that equated zionism with racism. president reagan was unambiguous. he said, if israel is ever forced to walk out of the united nations, america and israel will walk out together. it was an unforgettable moment and a watershed in u.s. relations. seven years later, with bipartisan support from this body, america led the effort to repeal the infamous u.n. resolution. i would like to thank senator cardin, was serving in the house at that time, and to think that my father played a small role in setting the process in motion is of great pride to my family. my father's values are my values. i could never replicate the
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contributions he's made. i've never been asked to sacrifice in the same manner. but i have sought meaning and fulfillment in life through my faith, my family, and through various philanthropic endeavors. our nation support for israel is long-standing, steadfast, and strongly in our national interest. if confirmed by the senate, i will dedicate my mission to advancing the national interest in the united states, and strengthening its relationship with israel, and working tirelessly to bring peace and stability to the region. i will bring to this mission deep understanding of israel's history, culture, geography, and commerce, developed over a lifetime of study. i will bring to this mission a close relationship with the president and ability to carry out his strategies, and finally i will bring a negotiating skill developed over many years to resolve multilateral disputes, often contentious. i will bring a commitment to this country and ability to
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positively engage with the israelis and a working command of the hebrew language. i approach this with unbridled optimism and excitement. some of the language i used during the presidential campaign has come in for criticism and rightfully so. while i maintain profound differences of opinion with some of my critics, i regret the use of such language and want to assure you that i understand the critical difference between the partisan rhetoric of a political contest and a diplomatic mission. partisan rhetoric is not appropriate in achieving diplomatic progress, especially in a sensitive region like the middle east. from my perspective, the inflammatory rhetoric that accompanied the presidential campaign is entirely over and if i'm confirmed, you should expect my comments to be respectful and measured. if confirmed, i will faithfully observe --
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>> american jews against occupation. 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 to the palestinians! moral american jews are against occupation and against friedman! moral american jews stand against friedman! >> american jews stand against this man! [singing] we will fill this world with love. [singing]
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mr. friedman: if confirmed by the senate, i intend to faithfully observe the directions given me 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. if confirmed, i look forward to working with you to enhance our relationship with the state of israel. sen. corker: thank you for those comments. we will continue with questions -- >> he's unqualified to be the u.s. ambassador to israel! illegal settlements in the occupied west bank! do not trust david friedman! he is a war criminal! david friedman -- sen. corker: we will begin questioning with senator cardin. if senator barrasso comes back, he will be next.
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sen. cardin: thank you, mr. chairman. you and i have something in common. our parents were proud zionists, worked to strengthen the state of israel, and the values that it stood for and stands for. my parents also taught me that words have consequences. my father, blessed memory, was a circuit court judge and served as president of our synagogue, which he told me was the toughest position he ever held, and taught me how to respect differing views, and to do that in any effective way. i am having difficulty understanding the language that you've used. you have justified that in your comments here that it was part of a campaign. these were written statements.
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but in some cases, they go back before the campaign. i'm specifically referring to your comments about the democratic leader in the senate and his motivation in regards to the iran nuclear agreement and how he came about is decision-making during that difficult time. as a person who struggled with that decision, i know the deliberations schumer went through and i went through and all members went through. it was a tough decision. i'm having difficulty understanding your use of those descriptions and whether you really can be a diplomat. 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? mr. friedman: senator, i provided some context for my remarks, but that was not in the
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nature of an excuse. there is no excuse. 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. i will tell you that for many years i've been involved in some of the most difficult, contentious, highly personal disputes that one can imagine, albeit in a commercial context, and i've dealt with judges, government officials, and over a lengthy period no one has ever found me to be unable to control a temperament or my rhetoric. the iran deal was something i felt passionately about.
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i was concerned that the united states was embarking upon a deal that presented an existential risk to israel and potentially a significant risk to our great country as well. i didn't have access to all the classified information that the members of the senate have, but from my perspective, 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'm privileged enough to travel to the state of israel for this mission. sen. cardin: just to put this in context, and go on to the second issue, you were accusing the democratic leader of validating the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich. those words are beyond hurtful. senator schumer is one of the champions on these causes.
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anyway, the two-state solution. we had a chance to talk in my office. we know the demographics. we also understand the geographic area of a viable palestinian state. we don't know exactly where those lines will be, but we had an idea. we both agree that must be negotiated the tween the palestinians and israelis, and no third party can dictate those terms. we are in total agreement that will be a decision made by the israelis and palestinians. we also know the areas that are likely to be part of those discussions. and settlements in areas that are outside of the generally accepted area has been perceived by america as being less than helpful in the debate. you have been involved in supporting settlements and in conversations that seem to imply that the two-state solution is no longer a viable option.
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what do you mean by that? mr. friedman: the israelis and palestinians were able to achieve a two-state solution along perimeters agreeable to them, and the prime minister of israel yesterday outlined some of them, i would be delighted. 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 on the basis of what i've perceived as unwillingness on the part of the palestinians to renounce terror and accept israel as a jewish state. i think that is a foundational problem. but i think it can be remedied and i hope it is. sen. cardin: i don't think anyone would disagree with that statement.
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the prerequisite of a two-state solution is that there is a jewish state recognized by his neighbor, and no longer can there be the cry that it is not legitimate. i think we all agree on that. i'm not sure that is responsive to the concerns that i have. mr. friedman: i would be delighted if a two-state solution could be achieved. the two-state solution began to take form with the oslo accords. one of the primary commitments was the commitment to end incitement, to educate the people to stop hatred, and we haven't made progress since then, and in the aftermath of oslo, terrorism has increased fourfold. 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. frankly, i think there's more we
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have in common than divides us. i do want to see peace in the region and i believe that a two-state solution would bring tremendous benefits to both the israelis and palestinians. sen. cardin: thank you. sen. corker: i think because of the type of hearing i see this developing into, we will have seven minutes on the clock. i know you just took seven, so that is why i waited. put seven minutes on the clock, if you will. senator risch. sen. risch: thank you very much. thank you for taking on what is going to be a difficult struggle. let me try to drill down a little bit in one of the concerns that i have. all of us think about how, if there is indeed a solution, if a solution is even possible, how do you get there? the problem i see, or one of many, many problems that i see, is kind of foundational to the whole thing.
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that is who you are negotiating with. it seems to me that the palestinian authority and hamas are deeply divided and polarized. how do you accomplish that when you are supposed to be dealing with a single entity that can make a deal, that everybody is willing to live with? the deal is not going to work unless the majority, the vast majority, are in agreement and committed to making it work. what are your thoughts on that? i understand that is getting a little bit in the weeds, but to me, it is really foundational to how you get to the end. mr. friedman: senator, i think you've identified the gating problem, and it is an
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extraordinary challenge. i think if we didn't have that problem, this would have been settled already. hamas is a terrorist organization. they seek the destruction of the state of israel. their issues are not settlements. their issues are the existence of israel. they control the gaza strip and i don't know who would control the west bank if there were elections tomorrow. i think that -- 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 and to some extent to create a palestinian middle class. gaza is ungovernable. it has a 30% or higher unemployment rate.
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until that changes, i don't think we will be able to uproot hamas from the gaza strip. 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, along with our allies in the gulf and israel's neighbors, to work harder on empowering the economic opportunities for the palestinian people, who i believe are being held hostage by a ruthless regime. sen. risch: i appreciate that and that observation seems to be very legitimate. the gaza strip and the west bank seem like worlds apart as far as economic opportunity and for that matter as far as just culture. again, i don't know how you bring those together to get where you need to be.
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i wish you well in that and i think we will all be watching to see how that works out. that may very well be out of everyone's control, except the palestinians themselves. sen. corker: thank you. i think what we will do is, i know people want to hear the answers to these questions -- we're going to recess. we have a vote and then unfortunately there's a 10-minute debate and then another vote. if everybody would come back probably after the second vote, so you may want to come back, or do whatever, but we are going to recess until that time. thank you.
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