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Obama-era treasury secretary Jacob Lew nominated as the next U.S ambassador to Israel

President Joe Biden nominated former Treasury secretary Jacob Lew for the role of U.S. ambassador to Israel.

Lew still has to be confirmed by the Senate, and if so he will be holding one of the country’s keystone ambassadorships, at a time when the Biden administration is pushing Israel and Saudi Arabia to normalize relations.

Repairing this historically contentious relationship would have significant implications for Israel’s position in the Middle East. However, Saudi Arabia has stated it will not recognize Israel’s sovereignty until the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is resolved. The kingdom has maintained its calls for an independent Palestinian state made up of east Jerusalem, Gaza, and the West Bank, territories currently held by Israel.

Israel, for its part, has recently experienced friction with the U.S. over Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s expansion of settlements in occupied Palestine, and a judicial reform plan which would weaken the Israeli courts system – both of which have spurred some of the largest protests the country has ever seen.

Despite this, the Biden administration has continually reaffirmed its support for Israel, and is also pushing to include the country in its Visa Waiver Program – which would allow Israelis to travel to the U.S. without needing a visa.

Before taking the office of Treasury secretary, Lew served as President Barack Obama’s White House chief of staff for most of 2012, and before that was director of the Office of Management and Budget in both the Obama and Clinton administrations.

Currently, he is a managing partner at Lindsay Goldberg, a private equity firm, and co-president of the New York-based National Library of Israel, USA board, which supports the main library in Israel.

A spokesperson said Lew had no immediate commentary on his nomination.

Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen stated in a social media postthat he “looks forward to working with [Lew] in the spirit of our close cooperation and alliance.”

(Photo courtesy of Chuck Kennedy | The White House)


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