US ambassador to Israel: 'Republicans support Israel more than Democrats'

US ambassador to Israel: 'Republicans support Israel more than Democrats'
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The United States' ambassador to Israel says there is "no question" that Republicans are more supportive of the Jewish state than Democrats.

In an interview with The Times of Israel, David Friedman said Israel has become an increasingly partisan issue in the U.S., and that a large portion of the Democratic Party has failed to mobilize in support of the country.

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"The argument that I hear from some Democrats that Republicans are seizing the pro-Israel mantle is true, to a certain extent," he said. "There’s no question Republicans support Israel more than Democrats."

"What the Democrats are not doing is looking at themselves critically and acknowledging the fact that they have not been able to create support within their constituency for Israel at the same levels that the Republicans have," he added.

He said the Democratic Party cannot blame the Republican Party for its popularity among pro-Israel voters and activists.

"That’s not an answer to the fact that the progressive left in the Democratic Party has disappointed many who are pro-Israel," he said. 

Former Rep. Ron Klein (D-Fla.), chairman of the Jewish Democratic Council of America, issued a statement on Thursday rebuking Friedman's remarks.

"It is truly unprecedented for a sitting U.S. Ambassador to Israel to engage in explicitly partisan rhetoric and behavior," Klein wrote. "Ambassador Friedman must remember that he is not the head of the Republican National Committee or the Republican Jewish Coalition political organization. He is the U.S. Ambassador, as confirmed by the U.S. Senate, to represent all Americans in Israel — not just those of one party, or those who share his political views."

Klein went on to denounce Friedman for being "politically divisive," including his decision not to invite Democratic members of Congress to the opening of the U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem earlier this month — a move, Klein wrote, that was "damaging to our national interests."

Friedman dismissed claims from Democratic lawmakers that they were not invited to the opening of the embassy. Those who came to the event, he said, were the ones that chose to attend.

Six Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Friedman this week complaining that they had not been invited to the embassy opening and expressing concern that the Trump administration was trying to politicize U.S.-Israel relations.

"The members of Congress who came were the ones who chose to come. That’s it. The ones who didn’t come were the ones who chose not to come," Friedman told The Times of Israel.

"But the White House did absolutely nothing to advantage or invite the Republicans," he continued. "Or to disadvantage or disinvite the Democrats. It was their choice. Everyone who came chose to be there."

"Ambassador Friedman should spend more time cultivating the historically bipartisan nature of the U.S.-Israel partnership," Klein wrote.