President Donald Trump's nominee to be US ambassador to Israel faced repeated heckling at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, as well as tough questions on views he has expressed about liberal American Jews, Jewish settlements and a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
David Friedman, a staunch Israel ally and critic of liberal Jews, said during his Senate confirmation hearing he has concerns about Palestinians' "unwillingness" to renounce terror and recognize a Jewish state.
Haaretz has reported that Friedman's claim that he only used inflammatory "kapos" rhetoric to describe opponents in the heat of the election campaign is inaccurate; he kept at it after the election was over.
The committee is scheduled to meet Thursday for Friedman's confirmation hearing. "There is no excuse". "These were hurtful words and I deeply regret them".
Trump was referring to the Jewish settlements being built on Palestinian territory in the West Bank in defiance of the US and much of the rest of the world - but which Friedman supports.
He also has dismissed as unworkable the proposed two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
"There's no need to worry about the First Amendment - free speech and privacy do not apply to immigrants applying for entry to the United States", Friedman wrote in a December 15 Israel National News column on banning assault rifles in exchange for restrictions on Muslim immigration.
Multiple senators pressed Friedman over whether the U.S. had abandoned the two-state solution formula. Republicans mostly asked Friedman about policy, and he was introduced by South Carolina GOP Sen.
Udall also found it troubling that Friedman accused Democratic Sen.
"I urge the majority in Senate to discuss Friedman's appointment again and think about moving in a different direction", he added. "If Israel and the Palestinians are happy, I like the one they like the best".
As Trump's appointee, Friedman has faced heavy criticism for his financing of Israeli settlement Beit El.
Friedman is a major donor to Beit El and serves as the president of the American Friends of Beit El Yeshiva, the US fundraising arm of the settlement's Jewish seminary and affiliated institutions, including high schools, an Israeli military prep academy, a newspaper for the religious Jewish settler community and the right-wing news site Arutz Sheva.
"I regret the use of such language and I want to assure you that I understand the important difference between a political contest and a diplomatic mission", Friedman said.
"I like the one that both parties like", Trump said of the path to peace.
"We were there, we are there, and we will always be in Palestine", he shouts as he's escorted out by security.
"Mr. Friedman's pro-settler positions and opposition to the two-state solution are in conflict with our views and the majority of American Jews who see settlement expansion as an obstacle to peace and who strongly support a two-state solution", they said.
The hearing began with an acknowledgment from all sides that it was going to be contentious.
"I believe he is the right guy at the right time", Graham said.
The Trump administration is very close to the Israeli government-so close that Israel's hard-line Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once spent the night in the former bedroom of President Trump's son-in-law-and top Middle East adviser-the real estate mogul Jared Kushner.