David Friedman, President-elect Trump’s lawyer and advisor, has been nominated to be the next United States ambassador to Israel. His reported opposition to a “two-state solution” is problematic.
Palestinian aspirations for their own nation state, regarded as legitimate by an overwhelming bi-partisan consensus of U.S. policy makers ever since the 1992 Oslo accords were formally accepted on the White House lawn, cannot be lightly disregarded.
Two states for two peoples, one the Jewish state of Israel and the other the Palestinian state, co-existing side-by-side in peace, and with security measures sufficiently strong to protect that peace, has been the policy of successive United States governments — Republican and Democratic — and supported by Congress.
That has also been the official policy of Israel governments since Oslo, as clearly expressed by Prime Minister Netanyahu in his 2009 speech at Bar Ilan University. That is not to say that dissenting views have not been held both in Israel and the United States. The right of Jewish people to settle and live in Judea and Samaria, that is, in the lands of
Biblical Israel west of the Jordan River, has long been advocated by a vocal and politically active minority in both countries.
However, the majority of Jewish opinion leaders agree with me that continued settlement expansion beyond existing settlement blocs and into areas envisioned for a future Palestinian state would eventually foreclose the two-state solution and lead to a single majority-Palestinian state.
Demographics are indisputable. Israel would either cease to be a democracy or cease to be majority Jewish. I have long supported the two-state solution because I am convinced that any alternative would ultimately be disastrous for Israel. America’s ambassadors have always worked to ensure Israel’s ability to protect its citizens and safeguard its borders.
They have furthered United States-Israel cooperation on numerous technological endeavors. They have listened to diverse perspectives among the American Jewish community. They have promoted a two-state solution as the only means to assure Israel’s long-term security. There are no short cuts or easy solutions to peace. Only the parties themselves can agree to end their conflict through direct negotiations.
I expect the Senate to closely examine whether Mr. Friedman will uphold these policies and whether he should be confirmed as the official representative of the United States to the people of Israel.
Rep. Nita Lowey, a Democrat, represents New York’s 17th Congressional district.