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The Senate on Thursday approved the first of President Trump's ambassadors.
Senators voted 52-46 to approve David Friedman's nomination to be ambassador to Israel, with two Democrats joining all present Republicans in backing him.
Sens. Joe ManchinJoe ManchinMajor climate program likely to be nixed from spending package: reports Sanders, Manchin escalate fight over .5T spending bill Sanders blames media for Americans not knowing details of Biden spending plan MORE (D-W.Va.) — who is up for reelection in 2018 — and Bob Melendez (D-N.J.) voted for Friedman on the floor, after backing him during a procedural vote earlier Thursday.
Friedman needed only a simple majority to be approved, and Republicans have 52 Senate seats. Two Republicans were not present.
Top Democratic senators voiced early concern over Friedman's previous comments backing Israel settlements and opposing a two-state solution.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee ranking member Ben CardinBenjamin (Ben) Louis CardinDefense & National Security — Military starts giving guidance on COVID-19 vaccine refusals Blinken pressed to fill empty post overseeing 'Havana syndrome' GOP disappointment with McConnell deal could delay vote MORE (D-Md.) said ahead of the committee's vote that he would not support the nomination.
"Taken together, Mr. Friedman’s statements and affiliations make it clear that he does not believe the two-state solution is necessary for a just and lasting peace," Cardin said.
He added that he believes Friedman's past stances will negatively impact "his ability to represent the United States as a credible facilitator of the peace process."
Manchin told reporters that he believed Trump should have the leeway to pick who serves in his administration.
"I'm deferential to any executive putting their team together, whether I like 'em or not," he told reporters. "He's went through the background, he got through all the checks and all the hoops."
Friedman's nomination hasn't been without controversy. Multiple hecklers disrupted Friedman's confirmation hearing over his support for Israel’s construction of settlements in the West Bank, which Israelis and Palestinians both lay claim to.
He has also advocated for Israel to annex the West Bank and has opposed a two-state solution for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.