March 23, 2017

Van Hollen Statement in Opposition to Confirmation of David Friedman

U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen submitted the following statement to the congressional record in opposition to the confirmation of David Friedman to serve as Ambassador to Israel:

"Mr. President, our Ambassador to Israel is one of our most consequential diplomatic posts.Israel is our greatest friend and ally in the Middle East, and one of our closest partners in the world.The bonds between our peoples have been unbreakable from Israel's beginning.Israel is a bastion of democracy and prosperity in a violent and unstable region, where Israel faces relentless threats to its security.It is imperative that our Ambassador to Israel have an even temperament, the utmost of integrity, and the ability to forge unity across entrenched divisions.

"I have a profound and steadfast commitment to Israel and to the Jewish community.That's why I am so concerned with David Friedman's nomination to become Ambassador to Israel.

"Mr. Friedman appears to have few, if any, of the qualities needed for this position.He is an extraordinarily polarizing figure, who has expressed views far outside of the longstanding bipartisan consensus on Israel.His body of published work makes clear his extreme positions.Mr. Friedman has asserted that Israel cannot trust the majority of American Jews.He has accused the entire State Department - an institution he now seeks to join - of anti-Semitism.He has called our coalition allies and partners in the fight against the Islamic State "cowards," "hypocrites," and "freeloaders." Given his radical and divisive rhetoric, I do not believe that he is capable of forging unity at home or stability abroad.

"Furthermore, Mr. Friedman has written that he does not believe in a two-state solution.For decades, through Democratic and Republican administrations alike, the United States and the international community have held that the two-state solution is the only way to achieve a just and lasting peace between Israelis and Palestinians.Mr. Friedman's position on the two-state solution, coupled with his offensive statements, led five former U.S. Ambassadors to Israel to urge the Senate not to confirm him.

"Shimon Peres, one of Israel's greatest leaders, once said, "Our problem is not to submit to the differences but to overcome them." Americans and Israelis deserve nothing less than an Ambassador who lives up to this ethos, one who seeks to strengthen Israel by advancing peace in the region.Given Mr. Friedman's public statements, I doubt that he can be that person.For these reasons, I cannot support his nomination."