David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearing
David Friedman in Senate confirmation hearingReuters

The Reform movement in the US published an announcement stating its opposition to the appointment of David Friedman as US ambassador to Israel. The unusual opposition to Friedman follows opposition by pro-Palestinian groups and has gained considerable attention as it is the first time the movement has ever opposed such an appointment.

On Friday, a day after Senate hearings to confirm Friedman's appointment commenced, Union for Reform Judaism President Rabbi Rick Jacobs released a statement saying Friedman is "the wrong person for this essential job at this critical time."

"There is no doubt that Friedman loves Israel and has a close relationship with US President Donald Trump, but these are not the necessary qualifications for a US ambassador to Israel. Friedman's background and temperament are liable to cause a rift instead of unity," they wrote.

The statement also says Friedman lacks the qualifications for the position, noting he has never been involved in professional foreign policy issues "other than as a zealous partisan and financial supporter of settlement activity."

"Mr. Friedman’s views on key issues suggest he will not be able to play a constructive role," said the URJ statement. "The U.S. Ambassador to Israel has the important responsibility of advising, shaping, and helping implement the President’s foreign policy goals.

"Indeed, it appears that Mr. Friedman’s extreme views on key issues related to the two-state solution, Israel’s borders, settlements, and the location of the U.S. Embassy are already reflected in the White House. Such positions are detrimental to peace and a strong U.S.-Israel relationship."

Arutz Sheva interviewed the leader of Republicans Overseas Israel, Attorney Marc Zell, who slammed the Reform statement.

How has your party reacted to the Reform statements?

We are unhappy with the Reform announcement. They have the right to speak but it is irresponsible in my opinion. Friedman is an excellent choice. He is trusted by President Trump and Vice President Pence. We haven't had a more qualified ambassador.

Is Friedman too outspoken in his opinions?

During one of the most incendiary campaigns in history it was easy to speak sharply. He apologized expressedly for his statements but at the same time insisted that his principles haven't changed. "

The Reform movement claims that Friedman's appointment might harm the traditional bipartisan support for Israel

Support for Israel is indeed across the board but unfortunately due to changes within the Democratic party the support for Israel is not self-evident there.

Zell responded to Friedman's statement in his Senate hearing that he saw the two-state solution as the optimal possibility for peace. He said that "from one point of view this is correct because they have never spoken much about alternative options. I believe there are other options and I think that when he arrives here as ambassador he will hear about those options.

"The New York Times published a long list of alternative options besides the two-state solution and I believe that some of them are worth investigating. When he arrives here as ambassador he will hear about these possibilities and investigate them. We will have a very interesting discussion about the options for the State of Israel in the land of Israel."

Zell explained that at present after the previous ambassadors' departure, the deputy ambassador is serving as ambassador until the Senate Foreign Affairs committee confirms Friedman's appointment and then the Senate itself confirms it. He concluded "I hope they understand that he is the best candidate and will fill the most important role of the president's representative in Israel."