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tv   Israeli Ambassador Nominee David Friedman Testifies at Confirmation Hearing  CSPAN  March 15, 2017 4:27am-6:23am EDT

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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 palestinians 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, and so you may want to come back at that time, but we will recess until that time. thank you.
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in order to move on. we're back in session. in order to move on with it, senator udal if -- since you're ready, we'll move on to you. thank you. >> thank you very much. and i appreciate the hearing and, first of all, i'd like to just put in the record the letter from the five ambassadors if it hasn't already been put in the record, bipartisan group of ambassadors that say that mr. friedman is unfit to be ambassador. so i would -- >> without objection. >> i would do that. and i am going to agree with much of what they said. i'm strongly opposed to this nominee. i believe secretary tillerson and president trump should recognize that mr. friedman is completely unfit for 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 region. that is evident from his past statements and they are not rand
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om off the cuff remarks. much of his offensive, inflamatory and insulting rhetoric is reported in the newspapers and repeated over and over. he has called for an arbitrary ban on many muslims entering the country. mr. friedman has stated that muslims should submit internet and telecommunications activity for inspection. and he has said, and i quote, "no need to worry about the first amendment." and he's also said the rights of free speech do not apply to muslims attempting to enter our country. mr. chairman and colleagues, just last week the republican majority close to censure a colleague under senate rule 19 for imputing bad conduct to a senator. well if, we truly care whether senators are maligned, we should look at mr. friedman's words which i think have been mentioned earlier by mr. cardon and i agree him in his opening talking about him rejecting these comments.
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but he has an insulting and denigrated members of the senate including senator schumer and senator franken. mr. friedman said, and i quote, "no matter how we ultimately vote, no matter how we ultimately vote by making his decisions such a close call which is plainly should not be, shumer is vie late the worst -- is validating the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich." when the anti-defamation league and senator franken criticize the trump campaign ad as being anti-semitic, he said, and i quote, "i don't see how anybody can take the anti-defamation league seriously going forward. there is what happens when people take these insane arguments to their logical extension. they lose all credibility and, frankly, they sound like
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morons." 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. i don't think they particularly likes israel. responding to president obama and second kerry's condemnation of violence in israel he said, engaging in blatant anti-semitism. i think 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
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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. president reagan said that the settlement activity was in no way necessary for the security of israeli and diminishes the confidence of arabs 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
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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.
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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 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
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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 separated your financial interests from that of bet-al
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and any other settlements that 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 what i sensed from 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.
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[ 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 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
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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
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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 -- chaotic, and so in those relationships, and so do you
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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
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forging agreements 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. 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
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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
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feel as ambassador the israeli how you can be a communicator the to put this global effort in what is a strong support from the united states to combat it. >>ly be a fierce advocate 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
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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 signaled 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.
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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
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bilateral support. and certainly, it is the policy of this country for generations to foster direct negotiations and to help bring those to a 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?
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>> 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 one-state formulation, and they would not like to be forced to evacuate their land. >> no.
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>> and the palestinians would not like a one-state solution unless they had full and equal 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
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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 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.
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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
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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, but i would be delighted to get back to you on that, senator. >> for those citizens that goal on heights, they needed certainty. israel decided to take the measure to apply israeli law in the goalian heights. can you speak to what happened there and what the effect has
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been? >> i think the golan heights is an incredibly important strategic area for israel. one can only imagine what israel would -- how israel would be suffering now if it didn't have the golan heights and the golan heights were occupied by isis. the golan heights is not an area of conflict. it -- i'm not saying -- there may be some conflicts, but my experience, i think it worked out quite well. >> i don't want to speak for syrians that live in the golan heights, i think i'd rather live in the golan heights than aleppo. >> that's true. >> one question i asked is if they had to move their family to the middle east, could choose any country in the middle east, where would they choose to locate their family? i can tell you my answer on. that i choose israel. that's my final question. thanks. >> thank you, sir. senator? >> thank you, chairman for hold
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important confirmation hearing. we had a constructive conversation yesterday. i'm going to make an opening statement, then ask a few questions. you are well known to the delaware bar. and your legal skills are widely and well respected. many of my colleagues have asked questions around this that's really not the central concern. it's not whether you are skilled at reaching complex legal resolutions, but whether you should suggest to us in a unique circumstance with a president unskilled in diplomacy and declined toward inflammatory tweets, your temperament is good
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for this post. the vital alliance between the united states and israel shouldn't be sacrificed on the alter of partisan politics. i've long believed that partisanship advances our nations interest. israel's interest and is the best path toward peace in the world. i'm gravely concerned that political forces in the united states and in israel are pulling officials away from a sensible middle ground. at a time of real division, i think it's important that this congress act in a way that reaffirms our bipartisan commitment to israel. we share a lot of interest, we have a great deal at stake, iran continues to threaten israel and american interests. continues to destabilize the broader middle east, terrorist groups like isis, hamas, and hez bala.
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on these and many other issues, israel is a vital partner for the united states. much of the media coverage surrounding our relationship focuses on shared challenges. recent successes shouldn't go unnoticed. we discussed the 10-year and 38 billion dollars of support that is the largest u.s. aide package ever, and something for which president obama deserves real credit, israeli officials with whom i meets regularly say that our security cooperation intelligence sharing has never been stronger. but i worry that with so much to gain by further cooperation, we are allowing actions and rhetoric by hardliners both hardliners in israel and extremist palestinians and statements by american politicians are driving us further apart. i think it is critical for there
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to be progress for the two state solution for politicians to give an unequivocal recognition for a jewish state. both sides have to consider the extent to which their words and actions contribute to these dangerous divisions that exist and continue to grow. and i'm concerned that both sides need to listen to each other and will have to make real sack faces to come together for a lasting peace. as we discussed, demographic challenges facing israel in my view are real and inevitable and put pressures on the possibility of a jewish democratic state in the long run, that's not our only challenge. i was concerned and disappointed that president trump didn't explicitly support a two-state solution in his remarks yesterday. something that for decades has been a fundamental pillar for bipartisan support. it suggested it is very difficult to articulate a
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rational plan or framework in which palestinians would accept the sort of status required for a one-state solution to have any viability. tomorrow i will be meeting with a wide range of representatives, and many of them have expressed concern, given previous statements you made, that were tempered or even insulting about whether as ambassador they would be welcomed, valued in the u.s. embassy in iz raelg. i am concerned that successful diplomacy means considering the consequences of our rhetoric and behavior. my central question really is, do you believe that in the role of ambassador if confirmed, you can act in a way that welcomes and celebrates and validates the entire american pro israel and jewish community in a way that advances and sustains bipartisan support for israel? and in a way that steers the trump administration and its
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agenda in the middle east toward peace and away from division and partisanship? >> thank you, senator, for that question. the answer -- 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 -- i mean for criticism, i deserve the criticism, and i've probably contributed to the problem. but we've all, i think not -- many people in the jewish community and proisrael 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 want peace. i think on those common footings, it's important to
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reunite the proisrael community. and i will pledge to you that i will do everything i can to do that, and i will 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 people of good faith who 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 that was interrupted repeatedly by protests. clearly the campaign, the rhetoric of the campaign, the explosive environment in the middle east, the longstanding deep divisions within israel and the region between israelis and palestinians and the regional adversaries excites very intense passions. and your statements have been in many cases insulting, that's been a subject of great back and forth today. let me ask you two simple and
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concrete questions. do you support or will you support israeli annexation? >> i will not. >> do you believe a two state solution is the most ideal path toward peace? >> i think it's the most ideal. i think it's the path that has received the most thought and effort and consideration. obviously, it's been tried for a long long time and we have wrestled with it. it still remains, i believe the best possibility for peace in the region. >> thank you. >> i enjoyed our time together. we saw roughly an hour talking about a full range of topics pertaining to the u.s. israel relationship and more broadly
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lack of stability. my role was to serve with a unit that flu around drones that was jointly developed around the state of israel. i came to appreciate the information sharing between our two countries. during my recent years as a member of congress, i've come to appreciate the importance of military aid and arms sales. israel and the u.s. confront common threads and we share ideals. our military cooperation benefits both countries. i need public reassurance here, that if confirmed, would you do all you can to strengthen and deepen even further the military efforts of cooperation.
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>> it's been a great success stories of the relationship, and i think very much benefiting both countries and i'll do everything i can to strengthen that look of cooperation. >> that's encouraging closer to home, we've been doing our part with the israeli guard. our guardsmen have regularly in training. various other sights. idf has found particularly helpful in preparing for their
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own defense. 65 indiana national guard soldiers participated in an operation known as united front. it was a small unit exchange in israel and conducted their search and rescue operations that were conducted there. so i just urge you to continue to seek more of these opportunities should you be confirmed as ambassadors. >> i'd like to turn briefly to the issue of the prospect of peace between the palestinians and iz raelg do you believe an acceptable resolution can be reached between the israeli governments and palestinians with mahmoud abbas at the helm? >> i would hope so, but i think the challenges are daunting. >> president abbas refuses to accept that position.
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obviously, as senator johnson noted, the palestinian authority undoubtedly preferable to hamas and to their credit they've engaged with israel on productive security matters. i think they have positions that are inconsistent with lasting peace. >> you've spoken to the challenges. maybe you could speak to what is perceived by some to be a chaotic success. >> you have a president whose succeeded his elected term by 7 or 8 years now past his elect
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electoral mandate i hope that there are -- there's a new generation of palestinians that wants the same thing that everyone wants, which is a better life, better opportunity for your children to live in peace. it would seem obvious to me that they're out there. i know there are some palestinians out there like everyone else. i would venture the vast majority just want what everyone in the world wants. we have to do what we can to help foster both economically and politically the development of that political class and an accompanying middle class to try to draw out that type of leadership. >> yesterday as has been mentioned, prime minister netanyahu laid out his two prerequisites for peace, recognition of a jewish state
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and israeli security control of the entire area west of the jordan river. >> this has been the primary position since 2009 it's really the analog to the naval control with regard to hamas there's an extraordinary risk of weapons transfers in that area. if the israelis didn't block the flow into gaza, there would be more horrific weapons than there are now the prime minister is concerned of a comparable flow of weapons. that's as it's been explained to me, an israeli red line in terms of their own security that's very important to the prime minister.
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>> this would likely require a perpetual presence on the ground? it would require some military control of the border yes. >> can you conceive of palestinian leaders who would be amenable to this situation? >> not today. i think that ultimately it would be in their interest as well to stop the flow of arms into a state that should be demilitarized. again, if calmer voices prevail. >> what role might the saudis play in -- >> i think the saudis, the
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egyptians, perhaps others as we heard yesterday in the prime minister speech seem to be far more amenable to productive discussions than in the past israel does not seem to be the third rail that it once was with regard to these countries. and from what i heard at the press conference yesterday it would seem to me that that's a very productive avenue for future discussions. >> i do want to -- i think the prime minister's been really clear that when he talks about security in the west bank, he's talking about perpetual, forever military presence. i think he's equivocal on that. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> i really appreciated the respect you showed me and i appreciate our conversation.
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especially the depth of your love something i admire. i want to zone in on some of the things that have been said and discusses. i have grave concerns about the volume and breadth of your past statements as we discussed in my office. you regret some of these particular hurtful language you used against not only president obama but also secretary clinton, someone who spent her entire professional career in service, two people who have spent a considerable amount of their careers in service. you talked about president obama is engaging in blatant anti-semitism and other words, you don't believe president obama is an anti-sellite? >> no, i don't believe that at all. i thought the language the president used in -- with the
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iran deal -- i thought that was -- at least i perceived it to be something that was historically jewish kennard. >> you described it as sycophant comments. you called senator kaine an israel barber. >> there's a lot i didn't know about him and i completely retract that statement. it was absolutely wrong. the comments go on about sitting members of the united states senate. second clinton, former senator clinton, you talked about her having anti-semitic sentiments, senator schumer has been discussed before again, someone
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who shares your depth of love for the state of israel. no matter how many votes -- it's plainly should not be these words are dramatic senator schumer is violating the worst appeasement of terrorism since munich. i try to find other ambassadors for posts such as this. you would agree these are policy disagreement disagreements these demean the character of another human be g being. >> i tried to criticize the words rather than the person. i can understand how it extended to the character. it was not intentional. i understand that. >> you and i know a lot about
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people demeaning folks we know about hate speech and hate words we know when people dismissed things as hate, it was just politics. we know the harm and damage it can do to individuals and entire communities, you would agree with that? >> i would. >> you attacked a state department with a 100 year history of anti-semitism, promotes the payoff of corrupt palestinians to support a two-state solution you also said after four months ago, you gave a speech in which you referred to the state department, the state department was anti-semitic for years. the ambassadors, took issue over
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the incredible professionals who work there. who make sacrifices for the family. they write in one paragraph, as we've already discussed in the state department, he's propag e propagated the false conspiracy theory, huma abedin has ties to the muslim brotherhood. supporters of jay street, organizations as kpos. the jews who cooperated with the nazis during the holocaust, 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.
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how cruel, mean spirited that kind of language is. you understand that, right? >> i understand it, senator, and 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 from some of those comments were unrepeatable, some were frightening. a few of them were extraordinarily touching. one from a holocaust survivor who wrote me and said, he survived the holocaust, loves israel with all his heart, he disagreed with me on the breast tactics to support israel, he felt i had invalidated the good faith of his positions. the last person in the world i would want to offend is someone like that, it has -- it's something that i deeply regret. >> so your past comments to me, and i understand that you're
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apologizing, you and i both know the difference between apology and atonement, correct? >> i think an apology might be the first step to atonement. >> yes, sir. you're looking to be in a position as a diplomat right now, at a time where you're entering an area of the globe that is delicate do say the least, in which there is tremendous passion and heart invested in which my love and your love of the state of israel often as you said, earlier in your testimony measured the wrong way can have great ramifications. >> yes. >> i have deep concerns with that history you have of uttering words, writing them, thoughtful ones and not understanding the ramifications even in the american contexts that those could have. i want to turn to another simple question i asked you about the usaid programs going on in the west bank. do you have intention to visit the west bank, should you be
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confirmed as ambassador? >> if the state department rules are changed and i'm permitted to do so. >> do you have intention of visiting the temple now? >> no, i never have visited. >> mr. chairman, i'm grateful for your allowance going over time. >> i find this whole process to be unreal, this sort of ordeal you're being put through to account for all these words, given some of the groups that are ratcheting all this up. a few years ago, they invited a chief negotiator to -- a person who has justified the murder of jews. this is a person who has routinely held a belief that is
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a mischaracterization of our beliefs. what you are saying is an unorthodoxy -- the united states needs to be a fail and balanced asher in this situation that we're facing in the middle east. i don't understand that view. i really don't. first of all, my view is that israel is our strongest ally in the region. my view is that in addition to a moral obligation we have to protect the right of the jewish people, especially one founded in the aftermath of the holocaust, they are the only free enterprise democracy in the region. the second point i would make, i find it startling, all these so called professionals in the state department, and the foreign policy elite are out there all the time. i rarely hear them stand up and speak voer severously on the activities that are being conducted by some.
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they are never reluctant to step forward and lead the efforts to condemn israel time and again. this is what krur going to confront when you are confirmed in terms of some in the state department. there's a misconception thatsome spread around, that you somehow have issued a wholesale rejection of the two-state solution. you've already testified here today, and said before. and others have said as well, that in a perfect and ideal world, you would have a jewish state and palestinian state peacefully living with one another. there are significant impediments to that. perhaps the least of which, is the existence of jewish settlements in judea. one of the biggest obstacles to that would be efforts by the previous administration to pressure israel. and to impose upon them, a negotiated settlement and what is in the interest of the nation
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of israel. a bigger impediment is the willingness of the leadership to recognize israel's right to exist as a jewish state that is the key phrase. as the homeland for the jewish people, that is a big impediment to a deal. how are you going to negotiate a peaceful co existence with a neighbor who does not recognize your your right to exist. how about the wholesale systematic indoctrination of young palestinians into a doctrine of hatred. and the justification of the killing and murdering of jews that begins sadly, tragically and outrageously at a young age. these international effortses to impose on israel a negotiated solution, along the terms that other countries think are appropriate. i think that's a -- that's not
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widely reported. when they go around justifying these attacks, when they dedicate monuments to so called martyr martyrs when they spread ridiculous rumors. i view these things as bigger impediments. it's not that you are opposed to opposed. 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 there will be more prosperous, they'll have the opportunity to grow their economy and security. sooner we hope there will be the opportunity for this to occur, right now, those conditions are not in place, the worst thing we
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can do is go in there and impose on our most important and loyal 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 regard to the two state solution? >> yes, sir. >> i want it to enter into the record a letter. >> without objection. >> one last thing, your role would be to represent, advocate for and implement the policy of the president, is that correct? >> 100% correct. >> and so on -- whether it's our position on any given matter, it's your job to be an advocate for the decisions made by the oval office. not your personal views. >> i would be an advocate for clients, my personal clues are
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completely subordinated to the views of the president and secretary of the state. >> thank you for taking time to come and meet with me yesterday. >> i'm not going to relitigate the concerns people have raised about some of your statements with respect to senators and the former president, i share those concerns but i'm concerned about an article that you wrote in november of 2015 talking about russia's intervention on syria where you held up that intervention as a model and predicted that they would succeed in defeating isis. the title of the article is learn a lesson from russia. i would ask that it be entered
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into the record. >> i think at that time, we had seen news reports about russia's failure in fact to go after isis and their motives to hold up the assad regime and we have seen since then. their blowing up of aid workers, bombing of hospitals i would ask, do you still believe that in the last year the russian military has done more to defeat isis than the united states. >> no, in my -- i'm not in anyway trying to praise russia. russia used isis as a platform, an excuse if you will to prop up
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the assad regime. it was a deplorable act the point of my article is that the united states had not acted as it threatened to do when the president set the red line and left the area open to a vacuum. the united states has done much more to defeat isis than russia. >> i appreciate that, though you did in that article characterize the situation as -- american leaders force their stellar military commanders to fight with two hands and a leg tied behind their backs. vladimir putin gets it. he knows how to identify a national objective. in an article, you refer to the global coalition to name isis as
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a bunch of freeloaders -- >> do you think that rhetoric is conducive to securing this fight against isil? >> no, i don't. i think that was a view i raised as a private person without that objective. >> so i appreciate the comments that you made billion 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've experienced discriminations by israeli authorities at the israeli border, for no other reason than they have arab last names. and as someone who has an arab last name -- how would you as
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ambassador address that concern that you hear -- should you hear that from arab americans who feel like they have not been treated fairly. >> well, i would obviously be the ambassador for the benefit of arab americans. it's inexcusable for any country to discrimination. i would want to engage with the israelis and understand what they were -- it's not a basis to engage, especially against the americ american. i would oppose that and work to make sure that was perceived.
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>> simultaneously bee doing upon them the benefits of citizenship wasn't working, can you collar phi if there are any circumstances under which citizens of israel should be stripped of their benefits and what benefits you think could reasonably be removed? >> not on the basis of a nationali nationality, certainly, i don't support any activity in israel, in this country or anywhere else, that would be based upon ones nation of origin. >> it was a temporary ban to
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keep the country safe. >> we haven't had incidents of terrorism from those countries we could point to? >> i don't have access to the classified information, i don't know, i'm sorry. >> i want to just end by reading you excerpts from a letter that i received from a constituent from concord new hampshire. she says in this letter, as a jewish constituent of yours, whose great uncle survived the holocaust, i'm appalled by david friedman's likening of jews -- my great uncle was born in poland, interned in the auschwitz concentration camp, lost his mother and sister during the holocaust. he was only able to survive due to his talent for fixing watches. it's a shame that someone who
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lost so many loved ones in the holocaust would be disparaged today by david friedman as a capo or nazi collaborator simply for standing up for what he believes is right. >> mr. friedman, what do i tell alicia my skon sit u end about why she should feel differently, that you could in fact represent her and you're not disparaging people who have her views? >> if you -- i will be happy to give to you my number and i would apologize to her personally. i'm sorry she feels that way. i respect her feelings and i'd like to make amends. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you. >> mr. turning to senator flake, i have an observation. thank you for being here, i know we had a very good meet iing.
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you're here today having to recant every single strongly held belief that you've expressed almost. and 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 wonder if you would share that with us, it's -- you've done that, sometimes people say things and they have to massage them to a degree, this is fairly extraordinarily. i wonder if you would share with us why you're willing to do that to serve in this capacity. >> the opportunity to serve my country as ambassador to israel would be the fulfillment of a life's dream, of a life's work.
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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, it was the first country to recognize israel and stood with israel steadfastly through thick and thin over very 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 that based on the relationship with the 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 better job
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going-forward and i intend to and i will. with regard to a diplomatic mission. it's much different than being a private citizen and writing articles. this is something i want to do, i think i can do it well. there's nothing more important to me than strengthening the bonds with the city of israel. >> let's continue on that theme for a minute, how important is it congress has been the bull work -- it's congress that is an enduring institution that has supported israel. and it's always been marked by bipartisanship. that support, can you talk about the importance of that i think it's been the exception rather than the rule, that the congress
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has divided over an issue like israel. israel is really not -- the united states stand with israel, they have common interests. first and foremost, the relationship is on the basis of shared values. they're a direct connection they have. to me it would be greatly disappointing if i could not help departisanize if that's a word, the relationship with israel. >> let me address for a second the comments yesterday with
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prime minister's visit. some of the comments have made some people report that we're no longer committed in this country to a two-state solution. i know that's been addressed at length here, just one aspect of it, do you see for one, i don't see that break. i think the framework that's most likely to produce peace, is there any likelihood at all that our fundamental principles, the parties themselves through direct negotiations arrive at a solution. is there any likelihood that the party parties would adopt anything other than a two state solution? i'd just like your thoughts on that. >> i've seen no evidence of an appetite by the palestinians to a one state solution.
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but i -- i guess i would say if it happens, we'll notice it, i haven't seen it yet. >> the bedrock principle is still direct negotiations between the parties and not have a solution imposed by outside organizations? be it the general assembly or security council or any other outside body? >> correct. >> that's correct, senator. >> thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you, senator. >> thank you for being here today. >> i think building off of the opening question, the reason many of us are asking you about these detailed statements you've made in the past. sometimes been reported of
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diplomatic engagements in the region, have not always been supportive of the positions that netanyahu has taken, we're worried support for israel is becoming another political football in this place. what's most important is keeping support for israel out of the political playing field. the short time i've been in public service. an issue that united us to an issue that's used in political campaigns. and so i think you're being asked these questions because we're worried about what the future holds. and your nomination is one of the strongest partisans on the issue of israel being willing to call democrats all sorts of terrible names. >> suggest that we're just in for another really rough stretch when it comes to trying to heal those divisions, i appreciate what you said, you want your tenure to be one of healing
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partisan divisions. if this was the intent of the administration, there are a lot of other people who would have been better suited to play that role. and sao i do want to ask some questions here, i think senator corker is right to ask about the exceptional level of recan takings and reversals, and i guess it's something different to me to regret words that you said then it is to actually change your underlying opinion. let me just make sure that i have this right. when you said that j street and supporters of j street are worse than capos. i hear you say you regret those wordses, have you changed your opinion on that matter? >> i have profound differences of opinion with the j street
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organization. i don't think that will change. my regret is that i did not express those views respectfully. recognizing that they're 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. >> but is your personal view still that j street and its supporters are worse than the capos of the world war ii era? >> no, it's not my view. >> okay. >> let me ask you about the word anti-sellite. you've thrown it around fairly liberally to describe actions of the obama administration. and you draw a distinction between calling actions anti-semit
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anti-semitic. it's a description about what lies in someone's heart, the idea that someone hates jews. and carries out actions based on that belief. i want to make sure 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? >> i think someone could inadvertently or unintentionally say something that is perceived with someone who has a long history of being exposed to anti-semitism. while the speaker himself would have done it unintentionally. sometimes words are uttered by one, and perceived by the other and the speaker and the
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recipient are just on different pages. >> you're saying that the phrase anti-semitic is owned by the person who hears the words, not -- it's not about the motivation of the individual? my motivations have nothing to do with whether my actions or my words can be described legitimately as anti-semitic? >> words could be legitimately perceived as anti-semitic. even though the speaker would harbor no anti-semitic feelings. >> i have no desire to discriminate against jews? >> i can see challenging words without challenging the words of
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the speaker. >> your hope that donald trump would fire individuals in the state department who have opposes policies that you and he have aspoused to such as moving the embassy. president trump threw his press secretary has said that 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 descent within the department of state -- you either agree with the president or you get out. your statement suggests you agree with that. that the president should fire individuals who don't agrow with positioning.
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>> would you try to seek the ouster of individuals working for the embassy that don't agree with your viewpoints? >> no, i think any executive has a right to have people that support who support their rights however they feel. there's tens of thousands of people who are entitled to their opinions, at certain levels the president is entitled to have people report to him who are prepared to execute -- >> given that you'll be running an embassy, you'll have a lot of civil servants who have served the country well. what level of individual has to believe in their heart in the same direction as you in order
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to maintain their position. >> i think in my case none. i'm not making any policies, i'm observing the directives of the president, so whether people agree with me or not, is completely irrelevant. >> thank you. >> thank you mr. chairman and thank you mr. friedman for your willingness to serve. and for your patience of this endurance test of a hearing. i appreciate the opportunity to get to know you better. 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 americaly, just about a year ago, i think it was march if that's correct. the first time i had the opportunity to visit israel was i think august of 2011. a few other members of congress. we went to idf headquarters, and
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we visited with a general, i believe at the time general eschle was his name. one of my colleagues asked a simple question. it was what is your view of u.s. foreign policy in the region. after about 45 seconds of trying to avoid the question, my colleague said please give us the answer you're not going to offend us. talking about his answer. they didn't know where the united states would be tomorrow they didn't understand what we were doing in the region. that was 2011, there was a lot happening around that time frame. a few months later i had an
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opportunity to meet with him. i was able to ask him the same question. i was startled with the same answer. today mr. friedman what would you say israel views the foreign policy as. what do you believe would be our asset 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 the meetout from the meeting between the prime minister and the president, that there be no daylight between the two countries. israel has no other friends like the united states sometimes they don't have any friends at all other than the united states. when the rest of the world sees
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the united states and israel are not aligned, they -- there's a risk they will become more aggressive. i think that loyalty and respect and no daylight is the -- i think everything else is sort of details and can get worked out it's what i think israel needs from us i think that's where the president is now. >> the strategic outlook for israel in the region. where are we going with iran right now? what is happening in jordan. key to security in israel. can you talk about the strategic outlook for the region.
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>> i think the gulf states are all united, perhaps inadvertently so. iran is a state sponsor of terrorism. i think that without relitigating the iran deal, obviously, 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. they continue to provoke the united states, they -- as the prime minister of israel said yesterday they write in hebrew 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, i think all the other sunni states are nervous
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as well. i don't think this is something i will be engaged on, but i certainly support the president's view that we need to reinstitute leverage on iran to hold them to the first page of the jcpoa. which says that iran will not develop or acquire a nuclear weapon. not sure what the other pages are, that page is the page that we ought to be focusing on, and enforcing as hard as we can. >> thank you, mr. friedman. when we were in israel with senator cardin's delegation, we were there visiting an iron dome missile battery. and as the celebration was taking place, you could hear the voices participating in that
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holiday right behind the iron dome facility. 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 there is no daylight between our two nations and i look forward to working with you to make that happen. >> thank you, senator menendez. >> thank you, mr. chairman. mr. friedman, 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 given client? >> zealous advocacy, loyalty, confidentiality. >> faith and fidelity. >> absolutely. >> who's your client if you ultimately achieve and are confirmed to your position. >> i would pledge to support and
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defend 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 too? >> that's correct. >> 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. and so the question is, we cannot have an ambassador who ultimately will be moved as much as they may be passionate good the country they are being sent to or by the prime minister of that country.
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as much as we will have the greatest relationships, it will bends their will to what is in the national interest of the security of the united states. can you tell us that is where your loyalty and commitment is? >> you have rejected many of the past comments have been made. i won't go through them again. you apologized to individuals. i take your rejection of some of what you said as temperate remarks. also an affront to the statement. >> yes. >> when you came to see me, i was quite interested in hearing from you, unsolicitedly. i asked you many questions. 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.
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can you talk to me about that? >> there is business activity in the west bank. >> there are businessmen 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 changes -- there are security considerations that overwhelm everything else. security can be less intrusive now than it has in the past. i think israel could probably do better. and without a specific instance,
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they could do better. as part of the effort in the region. the golf states, to prove the palestinian economy. we could look to the nations to help. >> the underpinnings necessary to achieve the peace that we all desire. it would be fair to say building the economic livelihood and israelis and palestinians is an important one? >> it is an important one. >> the administration and congress are seeking to pursue those goals. you share those goals as well? >> i do. >> you left out of your statement, i guess for purposes of time. something that i found interesting. you supported an entity called
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united hatsala. an israeli organization of volunteer first respondsers that uses advanced technology to weave through traffic to provide emergency services and save lives. what makes it so special is that it's comprised of volunteers from the israeli and palestinians. they treat patients in the order, the severity of the affliction and never let any other considerations, political, religious or otherwise influence your commitment to saving lives. he represents the best of the israeli people. does this capture the essence of your feelings toward palestinians and israelis? >> it does in fact i was in
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israel this past summer, when an 8-year-old boy gave an award to a muslim volunteer at united hatsala. the volunteer had pulled his mother out of a burning car a year and a half earlier, saved her life. and the boy gave an award to this muslim volunteer for saving his mother's life. i don't think there was a dry eye in the house. this organization, because of the way it operates, represents the best of all the israeli people. ed. >> do you believe the life of a palestinian child is the same life of a jewish child? >> absolutely. >> do you believe the dignity of a palestinian woman is the same as a israeli woman? >> i do.
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>> in addition to pursuing the national interest and security of the united states. i assume whatever personal interest you may have in israel, that you will wall those off in such a way that that will not be a question as well. >> finally. some might think that this is a nomination conversion versus a true process toward atonement for some of the things that may have been said in an ideological 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. >> i'm sitting here under oath
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taking that oath seriously, my views are entirely heartfelt. 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. >> senator paul? >> welcome, mr. friedman congratulations on your nomination. >> thank you. >> there's a presumption that america knows best, is in charge of everything, and we're going to tell everybody the way things are going to be. in the peace process, we have decided what the peace process is since 1947. maybe there ought to be some other thoughts. i'm not here to say what the
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best peace process is, we need to take a step back and realize any peace process will take agreement from both sides. doesn't mean we shouldn't have any role. we shouldn't be so prumt shus to deck date the role. i know you have your opinion on settlements. but it's also not our country. and we don't live there. and it's not saying it's not a problem i'm not so sure the united states should dictate this. i think that we ought to be aware of the ramifications of policy and voice our opinions on these. i think yours have been very strong. in favor of settlement. this has come up in a press conference. president trump has voiced heistancecy to the 54 new units
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in the west bank. i'm not here to say what my opinion is. we ought to account for and think about what 5400 new settlements in the west bank due to the possibility of piece. are you open to thinking about what the ramifications are other than saying, we should build all the time. >> are you open minded enough to know there are ramifications and you'll listen? i think sometimes we think everyone thinks alike in israel. we have no idea what goes on. they have more diversity and opinion we need to understand that, and your job as ambassador is to understand that maybe a third of the population of israel, a significant number don't want new settlements in the west bank either. your job will be to report that to the president.
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and let him know the different viewpoints in israel. even if we don't get a say. the capital is a little different. israel gets to decide the capital of the country. as you and i discuss, no one else has an embassy there, right? >> correct. >> there will be ramifications if we move it, are you a thoughtful individual where you think about the ramifications. if you think long and hard, if we move our embassy there, or somehow americans are caught up in it, that will it have been something that was worth our while if bedo it for the symbolism of it because of it. and will you think and advise the president that there's more than one side to the issue? >> yes, the decision will be made by the president and i am confident he will. i would support him considering all of the political security
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and other ramifications associated. >> i don't put myself out as an expert, or someone who has an answer to the middle east peace. i wish i did. having travelled there once, i have an opinion like everyone else, my opinion basically is, it is elusive, and i'm fairly justified in that, i would say that i came back from israel thinking that our best hope is incremental change. i think it's an equation where israel holds most of the cards and power. they have an unparalleled military, i don't think things are going to change militarily. i would say there is chance for improvement it's going to be incremental. one of the things i met with palestinian businessmen. they mentioned to me areas you see in the west bank areas see like 80% of the west bank. they feel like they don't have access to it. they're forbidden from drilling for water, minerals.
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my advise would be to meet with palestinian businessmen, listen -- and women, listen to them, and say, gosh, if it this is a way we can lessen tension and hostility between the groups, why don't we see if there's a way that palestinians can make more money. there's all kinds of thing that are not the ultimate in final agreement that is elusive that we can do. i want to know that you're open minded to saying, we're less likely to have war the more we trade, and have interaction. are you open minded enough to hear the other side from the palestinians on what we can do to enhance and lessen hostility? >> i would be excited to have those discussions. >> all right. i think some of that could be done here. there is some of that here between the different parties, some of that can be done over there, i think it's important that you project to them that you are open minded on these things because you have had. things because you have had. i have strong opinions too.
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