By Dianne Feinstein

Originally appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle

The U.S. ambassador to Israel is one of the most sensitive diplomatic postings in the world. The ambassador is charged with maintaining our vitally important relationship with Israel in one of the world’s most volatile regions. It requires carefully chosen words and actions, each of which are weighed and analyzed for even the subtlest of policy implications.

In David Friedman, President Trump has nominated someone who lacks the necessary temperament to serve in such a crucial position. His divisive rhetoric and dangerous positions are contrary to long-held policy and would undermine our national security by further inflaming tensions in the region.

He has supported immediately recognizing Jerusalem as the capital and moving the American embassy from Tel Aviv. Such a relocation has been repeatedly delayed by previous administrations — both Republican and Democratic — so the final status of Jerusalem and its holy sites can be resolved by the Israelis and Palestinians themselves.

He has directly supported settlement activity. According to public records, Friedman is the president of American Friends of Bet El Yeshiva, an organization that raises funds for the Beit El settlement in the West Bank. As a benefactor of the settlement enterprise, it’s impossible to imagine Friedman will push to stop settlement expansion, though the White House recently called for holding off on settlements.

Friedman expressly rejects the two-state solution. Since the Oslo Accords, the United States has consistently called for two states for two peoples. The reason is simple: The only way to ensure that Israel remains a Jewish democracy is through the creation of an independent Palestine by its side.

The fact of the matter is that Israeli Jews are already a minority between the Mediterranean and the Jordan River. We simply cannot wish away Israel’s demographic challenge, which will only worsen with time.

Rather than dealing with the facts as they are, Friedman has dismissed Palestinian sovereignty by describing the two-state solution as a “scam” designed to cultivate a narrative of an “illusory solution in search of a non-existent problem.”

In the absence of creating an independent Palestine, I’m unaware of any plausible plan that would create a single state that can be both Jewish and democratic.

His vision of a one-state solution would either exacerbate the conflict by ignoring the Palestinians’ inherent right of self-determination or would result in a state where the Jewish people were a minority. Perpetual conflict with the Palestinians will never create an enduring peace for Israel.

Friedman’s positions are so extreme that he tried to walk them back at his confirmation hearing. However, pandering for votes doesn’t negate a lifetime of radical views. If confirmed, I seriously doubt he would push for a two-state solution after so forcefully denouncing it in the past.

As dangerous as his policies are, Friedman’s past rhetoric toward those with whom he disagrees casts significant doubt on his diplomatic abilities.

He called President Barack Obama’s administration anti-Semitic. He attacked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by falsely stating she received advice from individuals connected to the Muslim Brotherhood and al Qaeda. And he has shockingly described some Jewish Americans as “lost souls” who are “worse than kapos” (prisoners in Nazi concentration camps appointed to supervise forced labor of other prisoners). He even went so far as to say some are not even Jewish — language that is far beyond the pale.

Even more frightening, I feel his confirmation would only fan the flames of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Friedman’s comments questioning the legitimacy of the Palestinian leadership alone make it impossible for him to be a neutral arbiter for peace. We need an ambassador who will bridge the divide between Israelis and Palestinians, not make it worse.

This posting is far too sensitive to entrust in an individual so divisive.

Dianne Feinstein represents California in the U.S. Senate.