Trump Israel ambassador pick bragged of removing two-state solution from GOP platform at November event

Story highlights

  • "The last thing the Middle East needs right now is another Arab dysfunctional state, which is all that a Palestinian state would be," Friedman said.
  • "Why would I want Israel to be distracted by a two-state narrative that...is going absolutely no where right now," Friedman said.

(CNN)Donald Trump's nominee to be ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, delivered a lengthy speech on the eve of the 2016 election in which he outlined his hardline views on Israeli-Palestinian relations — views that have come under scrutiny during his confirmation process.

In the speech delivered in his hometown of Woodmere, NY, video of which was reviewed by CNN's KFile, Friedman boasted of removing references of the two-state solution and occupation of the West Bank from the Republican Party platform, called the Jewish group J-Street "a dangerous organization," and said the Anti-Defamation League had "lost all credibility." He said it would be "ludicrous" to pressure Israel to make peace to create "another Arab dysfunctional state."
Friedman also falsely asserted that Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin has ties to the Muslim Brotherhood, a far-right conspiracy theory that has been debunked by several fact-checking organizations.
Video of the event was removed from Facebook and Vimeo after publication of this story.
Senators on the Foreign Relations committee last week questioned Friedman on his views, many of which run counter to longstanding US policy towards Israel. In response, Friedman attempted to walk back and soften his positions on Israel, telling senators he believed in the two-state solution and that Israeli settlements --- which he previously strongly supported --- may not be helpful to the peace process. He also apologized for his more inflammatory comments during the campaign, such as comparing the group J-Sreet to Nazi collaborators.
"The inflammatory rhetoric that accompanied the presidential campaign is entirely over, and if I am confirmed, you can expect my comments to be careful and measured," he said. Friedman's nomination has not yet been up for a vote by the Senate Foreign Relations committee.
In his speech on November 7 to an audience gathered in a private home, Friedman, who was an adviser to Trump during the campaign, said he wasn't campaigning and just wanted to have a discussion about the issues and his approach to Israel. In it, he expressed his opposition to a "two-state narrative" that he sees as a distraction.
"Why would I want Israel to be distracted by a two-state narrative that, for whatever you think of it, whatever your hopes might be for some time in the future, is going absolutely no where right now," Friedman said. "There will never be a two-state solution until the Palestinians accept Israel as a Jewish state and renounce violence."
"The last thing the Middle East needs right now is another Arab dysfunctional state, which is all that a Palestinian state would be," he added.
Friedman argued that it was the Palestinians, not him, that are against the two-state solution. He said "peaceful coexistence" with Palestinians would not happen in this generation.
"It's not worth wasting anyone's breathe on it right now, it's not gonna happen," Friedman said. "It's not in the interest of Israel and therefore it's not in the interest of the United States."
The Trump administration's position on a two-state solution was called into question last week, when the President said during a press conference with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, "I'm looking at two-state and one-state, and I like the one that both parties like."
After Trump's comments, his ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, reaffirmed the US commitment to a two-state solution.
Friedman boasted about his efforts to remove references to the two state solution and occupied territories from West Bank from the Republican platform and noted it was contrary to decades of established US and international policy.
"We put together a platform that frankly, by a wide margin, is the most pro-Israel of either party in the history of this country. There is no longer a reference to a two-state solution, which has been a -- this is important, the state solution an important, I don't want to minimize this -- but just for now no reference to a two state solution. Which was identified by George Bush as an American imperative and certainly has been followed by Obama as an American imperative. And most importantly, the Republican platform with respect to Judea and Samaria, Israel is not an occupier -- which is contrary to 50 years of UN positions and frankly mostly that long of the position of the United States."
In the November speech, Friedman falsely asserted that longtime Hillary Clinton aide Huma Abedin had connections to the Muslim brotherhood, a claim that has repeatedly been labeled false by several fact-checking organizations.
"I get criticized for this all time but I won't stop saying it -- she has significant ties to the Muslim Brotherhood," Friedman declared.
He also attacked two Jewish organizations, J-Street and the ADL.
"What the ADL has become is not the Anti-Defamation League, it's the league to combat anti-liberalism," Friedman said. "The ADL has a wonderful long legacy, primarly under Abe Foxman, who I disagreed with but who certainly knew anti-Semitism when he saw it. The ADL is now run by a guy named Jonathan Greenblatt who is strong supporter of J-Street and they've lost all credibility." (Friedman has since apologized to the ADL for his past comments about the group, and apology Greenblatt accepted in a statement on Twitter.)
At another point in the speech, Friedman falsely asserted that the J-Street board was "more than half Arab."
"J-Street is a great thorn in our side, everybody's side," he said. "They do tremendous damage because they purport to speak for the Jewish people, and they don't, and frankly their board is more than half Arab. But they are a dangerous, dangerous organization."
Friedman said liberal Jews had not been a friend or pro-Israel force, and they dangerous gave cover to Democratic politicians to say they had Jewish support.
"When you don't support Israel, when you don't support traditional Jewish values, when you don't view the Torah as God-given legacy --- no matter how religious you are, if you don't have those views, you know you don't really have much in common," he said. "The liberal Jewish community has not been a friend, not been a pro-Israel force in this country. The danger of that community and the J-Street community is that it enables people like Hillary Clinton to say, 'what are you talking about. I'm not anti-Semitic, I'm not anti-Israel, I'm supported by 2/3rds of the American Jewish community.' And she's not wrong when she says that. And that's an issue and we face it everyday and it's not getting any better."