President Trump's nominee to be the next ambassador to Israel affirmed his belief that direct negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians are needed to reach a peace agreement, but maintained that the talks can't succeed if terrorism persists.
"I have expressed my skepticism about the two state solution solely on the basis of what I have perceived as an unwillingness on the party of the Palestinians to renounce terror and accept Israel as a Jewish state," David Friedman said during his Senate Foreign Relations Committee confirmation hearing.
"The two-state solution, as you know, began to take form in 1993 with the Oslo accords," he said. "One of the primary commitments of those accords was [Yasser Arafat's] commitment to end incitement and to begin to educate his people and to stop hatred. And we haven't made progress since then, and in the aftermath of Oslo, terrorism has increased fourfold since before Oslo."
"I would be delighted if a two-state solution could be achieved," he added.
Friedman's views on the impediments to negotiated peace that would lead to the formation of a Palestinian state alongside the Israeli state represent a marked departure from the Obama administration. The Obama team emphasized Israel's expansion of settlements in contested territory as a major obstacle to the peace talks, most notably when they allowed the passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution condemning settlement construction.
The would-be ambassador urged Democrats not to be alarmed by belief that "the 'two-state narrative' has become a damaging anachronism," as he put it in an August op-ed.
Friedman proposes to remedy it by appealing to young Palestinians who have suffered under the Palestinian Authority, a unity government that includes the terrorist group Hamas.
"I know some Palestinians who are just like everybody else and I would venture that the vast majority just want what everybody in the world wants," he said. "And we have to do what we can to help foster both economically and politically the development of that political class and accompanying middle class to try to draw out that kind of leadership."