Senate Confirms Friedman by 52-46 Vote
WASHINGTON – The Senate confirmed the nomination of David Friedman for U.S. Ambassador to Israel by a near party-line vote (52-46) on Thursday afternoon. Almost all Senate Democrats voted against Friedman including fellow New Yorkers, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. Only two Democrats, Bob Menendez (NJ) and Joe Manchin (WV), crossed party lines and voted with the Republicans to confirm the nomination.
Two Republicans, Sens. Rand Paul and Johnny Isakson, skipped the vote for unknown reasons. (UPDATE: Isakson is home recovering from back surgery).
“Mr. Friedman’s smearing of my fellow Jews, many of whom are members of J Street, should be a disqualifier,” Senator Al Franken from Minnesota said during a debate on the Senate floor.
Franken added that Friedman’s hardline views on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict will further complicate efforts to revive the peace process and achieve a two state solution. “Confirming David Friedman as Ambassador to Israel will only serve to make that job more difficult, if not impossible,” he asserted.
During his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee last month, Friedman expressed regret for his past partisan comments and noted that he would be “delighted” if Israelis and Palestinians were able to reach a two-state agreement while expressing skepticism towards Hamas’ willingness to renounce terrorism. “I expressed skepticism about the two-state solution due to the Palestinians’ refusal to recognize Israel as a Jewish state,” he explained. “The two-state solution, if it can be achieved, will bring great benefits for Israelis and Palestinians.”
Explaining his opposition to the New York Attorney, Senator Brian Schantz (D-HI) noted, “Our Ambassador to Israel should not be more involved in Israel’s politics than our own.”
Last week, former Senator Joseph Lieberman assured Democrats that Friedman will perform his duties satisfactorily even beyond expectations. “I want to assure you that David Friedman will perform as Ambassador way above expectations,” Lieberman, who is a partner at the Kasowitz Benson Torres & Friedman law firm, said at a Yeshiva University symposium. “He will.”
According to the former Democratic nominee for Vice President, the near party-line vote on Friedman’s nomination was more about Trump, as most Democrats voted against all of the President’s cabinet picks.