'Unqualified, ill-tempered': former diplomats condemn Trump's Israel ambassador choice

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David Friedman, nominated to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel, prepares to leave a hearing room on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, during a break in his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Rather than defend his positions, Friedman calmly attributed his long record of inflammatory remarks as the result of the heated presidential campaign and vowed to moderate his statements as a diplomat.

"I find this whole process to be unreal, this sort-of ordeal you're being put through to account for all these words, in particular given some of the groups that are ratcheting all this up", Rubio said.

President Trump's choice to be the US ambassador to Israel sought Thursday to assure skeptical senators that he can be fair-minded despite previous public statements doubting a Palestinian state and supporting Jewish home building in the West Bank. He specifically mentioned an exchange with Jonathan Greenblatt, the CEO of the anti-Defamation league, which he called a bunch of "morons".

An EU-funded poll of 1200 people on Thursday found that 55 percent of Israelis and 44 percent of Palestinians supported a two-state solution to the on-going occupation of Palestinian lands. Now that I've met and spoken with David Friedman on a number of occasions, I can tell you that the President's trust in Friedman is well placed.

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Several senators expressed concern about the increasing breakdown of the once bipartisan support for Israel, a condition to which Friedman said he'd likely contributed. "I think you have to be careful".

The ads and action alert come on the heels of the CUFI Action Fund hosting a mid-January fly-in to Washington during which more than 260 Christian leaders representing 49 states lobbied their Senators in support of the nomination.

Trump said that the United States would work toward peace but said he was leaving it up to the parties themselves ultimately to decide on the terms of any agreement.

"President Reagan said that settlement activity was 'in no way necessary for the security of Israel, '" Udall said.

Five former US ambassadors to Israel from both Republican and Democratic administrations urged the Senate in a letter not to confirm Friedman, saying that he holds "extreme, radical positions" on issues such as Jewish settlements and the two-state solution.

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The stress they all "care deeply about Israel" as the US' major ally in the Mideast, but cite Mr. Friedman's political views as rendering him unsuited for the high-level diplomatic post. They included Thomas Pickering, William Harrop, Edward Walker, Daniel Kurtzer and James Cunningham.

Newly appointed U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley presents her credentials to U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres at U.N. headquarters in New York City, U.S., January 27, 2017.

Friedman's pro-annexationist views, however, are unsurprising for someone who so passionately self-identifies with Israel's settler movement.

Cardin said he and Friedman had in common that "our parents were proud Zionists who worked and did everything they could in support for the State of Israel".

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