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Senate approves Trump's Israel envoy

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The sharply divided Senate on Thursday narrowly approved President Donald Trump's choice to implement American foreign policy in Israel.

The 52-46 vote to approve David Friedman saw two Democrats join 50 Republicans in support of the bankruptcy lawyer turned diplomat. The chamber's two independents - Bernie Sanders and Angus King - joined ranks with the remaining 44 Democrats in opposition.

Friedman's nomination was divisive. He has a long string of incendiary remarks when it comes to his staunch support of Israel, including saying a group of liberal American Jews are akin to Jews who helped the Nazis during World War II.

J Street, the group whose members Friedman targeted as “kapos” -- Jews who worked for the Nazis in concentration camps -- said shortly after the vote: "Never before has a vote for a US Ambassador to Israel been so contested.

"The strong opposition to Friedman made clear: His extreme views &rhetoric re: I/P conflict are firmly outside mainstream of US policy making," the group, which bills itself as "pro-Israel, pro-peace”, wrote on Twitter, referring to Israel/Palestine.

In addition to his opposition to the group, Friedman has been an outspoken supporter of Jewish-only settlements in occupied Palestinian territory.

Beyond words, Friedman has been a prominent financier of Israel's West Bank settlements. A group of former U.S. ambassadors to Israel opposed to his nomination pointed to that fact, and remarks in which he said he does not believe it would be illegal for Israel to annex the territory, as examples that should disqualify him from the post.

2017.03.24 / 11:59
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