February 16, 2017

Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on Nomination of David Friedman to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations 

Hearing: Nomination of David Friedman to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel

February 16, 2017

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Opening Statement

I want to welcome Mr. David Friedman to the committee today to discuss his nomination to be our ambassador to Israel. Over the last 70 years, the United States and Israel have enjoyed a close and meaningful relationship. This alliance has been a pillar of American and Israeli foreign policy and greatly beneficial to both nations.

Israel serves as the greatest model for democracy in the Middle East is our most important ally in the region.

America's support for Israel is a widespread, bipartisan effort, and it should remain so. Congress has pushed for increased military aid and security cooperation between our two countries, and I believe we have taken necessary steps to ensure that Israel will have every tool and resource needed to defend itself in an increasingly destabilized region.

Yet even as we in Congress have done the things needed to strengthen our bond with Israel, we have to acknowledge that the relationship between our two great nations has been strained in recent years.

It is clear that action taken by the U.N. Security Council in December was counterproductive to reaching a long-term peace between Israel and Palestinian people. A durable peace agreement will only come from direct negotiations. Any third party efforts to supersede those negotiations only serve as impediments to peace. In a neighborhood torn apart by terrorism and civil war, the disproportionate focus on Israel by the U.N. runs counter to the organization's stated goals.

So, with these challenges in mind and the onset of a new administration, now more than ever we must recommit ourselves to the vital, long-term support of Israel.

Mr. Friedman, we are here to consider your nomination to be the U.S. ambassador to Israel and to be the president's chief representative to that country. I look forward to hearing more today about how you will promote increased cooperation between our two nations, your views on the two-state solution and other avenues towards peace, and how you will be an effective instrument for achieving the policy goals of the United States.

We thank you for being here. I will turn to my friend and ranking member, Senator Cardin.