Friedman likely won’t become ambassador to Israel until June
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Friedman likely won’t become ambassador to Israel until June

Envoy will be sworn in by Pence and arrive after Passover, but it'll probably be months before he can hand in his credentials

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the US ambassador to Israel, concludes testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Feb. 16, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)
David Friedman, President Donald Trump’s nominee to be the US ambassador to Israel, concludes testifying before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Feb. 16, 2017. (Win McNamee/Getty Images)

US President Donald Trump’s appointed ambassador to Israel, David Friedman, who was confirmed by the Senate on Thursday, will likely take up his post fully only in June.

“This week, it will be my high honor to administer the Oath of Office to Ambassador David Friedman,” Vice President Mike Pence told thousands of delegates at the annual policy conference of the pro-Israel lobby AIPAC Sunday night. “David is an unabashed advocate for a stronger Israel-America relationship and our friendship will be stronger after he gets sworn in as ambassador. And I got to tell you, I just can’t wait.”

But so far, no date has been set yet for Friedman’s arrival in Israel, the US Embassy in Tel Aviv told The Times of Israel on Monday. According to Israeli sources, the bankruptcy-attorney-turned-diplomat is not likely to hand his letter of credence to President Reuven Rivlin before June. Until that ceremony, he will not officially be considered Washington’s ambassador to Israel.

Friedman, whose appointment was controversial due to his past support for West Bank settlements and his derogatory remarks about liberal American Jews, was confirmed Thursday in the Senate by a 52-46 margin, the most closely contested vote on an envoy to Israel ever.

Vice President Mike Pence waves to the crowd after addressing the AIPAC police conference in Washington DC, March 26, 2017 (screen capture: YouTube)
Vice President Mike Pence waves to the crowd after addressing the AIPAC police conference in Washington DC, March 26, 2017 (screen capture: YouTube)

But Israeli leaders, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, warmly welcomed him, hailing him as a great friend of Israel who will enhance the bilateral relationship. Some US Jewish groups such as the Anti-Defamation League and the Conference of Presidents also congratulated Friedman on his appointment.

Other organizations, such as the dovish pro-Israel lobby J Street — which Friedman famously referred to as “worse than kapos” during the presidential campaign — on the other hand, lamented that his “extreme views and rhetoric about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict are firmly outside the mainstream of American policy making.”

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