WASHINGTON — In a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be U.S. ambassador to Israel, indicated that although a two-state solution calling for the creation of a Palestinian state next to Israel is the “most ideal” path toward peace, the option has failed to yield progress due largely to Palestinian intransience.
Under questioning by Marco Rubio (R-FL) during Thursday’s confirmation hearing held by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Friedman emphasized his skepticism toward a two-state solution, suggesting that imposing the deal on Israel would be “bad for their security and bad for their future.”
Friedman agreed with Rubio when the Florida senator noted:
Your position is not that you are opposed to this ideal outcome in which there would be two states, but that you recognize that at this moment given the circumstances that exist in the world today, 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. Hopefully, they’ll be more prosperous. Hopefully, they’ll have an opportunity to grow their economy and their security. And maybe in 20 years, 15 years, five years, sooner rather than later, we all hope there will be the opportunity for this to occur, but right now those conditions are perhaps not in place. And the worst thing to try to do is go in there and impose on our most loyal and important ally in the region a deal that is bad for their security and bad for their future, is that an accurate characterization of your feelings with regards to the two-state solution?
“I think it is senator,” responded Friedman.
He acknowledged that the two-state option is the “most ideal” road to peace between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“I think it’s the most ideal,” Friedman told Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE). “I think it’s the path that’s received the most thought and effort 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 have failed, but it still remains I believe the best possibility for peace in the region.”
When questioned by Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD), the Senate panel’s ranking-member, Trump’s nominee noted:
If the Israelis and the Palestinians were able, through direct negotiations, to achieve a two-state solution along parameters agreeable to 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 an unwillingness on the part of the Palestinians to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state. I think that in my view is a foundational problem, but I think it can be remedied and I hope it is.
Friedman told the lawmakers that he agreed with President Trump’s recent comments marking a departure from the hardline stance the U.S. has maintained until recently, in which the two-state solution was the only option on the table.
“I’m looking at a two-state [solution], and one-state [solution] and I like the one that both parties like. … I can live with either one,” declared the U.S. President while standing next to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the White House.