The vote was 52
to 46, almost exclusively along party lines. Only two Democrats,
Senators Robert Menendez and Joe Manchin, joined Trump's fellow
Republicans in backing Friedman.
That amount of opposition is highly unusual for a nominee for
U.S. ambassador to Israel, a close ally of the United States.
For decades, nominees from both Democratic and Republican
presidents have been approved without objection, via unanimous
consent or voice votes.
Friedman, who has no diplomatic experience, is a longtime friend
of Trump who worked for the Republican former New York
businessman as a bankruptcy lawyer.
In addition to investing in settlements on land claimed by the
Palestinians, Friedman favors moving the U.S. embassy from Tel
Aviv to Jerusalem. The relocation is strongly opposed by many
U.S. allies because both Israel and the Palestinians claim the
city as their capital.
Friedman is also known for using inflammatory language against
those with whom he has political disagreements, such as
describing former President Barack Obama as anti-Semitic.
Democrats said his approach could risk security in a volatile
"Our ambassador should not be the kind of person who uses
language to fuel violence, hate, instability," Democratic
Senator Brian Schatz said on the Senate floor before the final
Trump's selection of Friedman reflects his shift in policy
toward Israel after years of friction between Obama and Israeli
leader Benjamin Netanyahu. Unlike Obama, Trump has wavered on
the U.S. commitment to a two-state solution, long a bedrock of
Washington's Middle East policy, and backed the embassy's
When Friedman was approved by the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, also largely along party lines, Republican Senator
Bob Corker, the panel's chairman, praised him as an "impassioned
advocate" for strong U.S.-Israeli ties.
"He understands the complexity of issues at stake for the United
States and the necessity to support a democratic ally in an
important and unstable part of the world," Corker said.
Thursday's vote meant that Trump will have an ambassador in
place in time for next week's annual conference in Washington of
the powerful pro-Israel lobbying group AIPAC.
(Reporting by Patricia Zengerle; Editing by Jonathan Oatis)
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