WASHINGTON — The Senate has confirmed Jacob Lew as ambassador to Israel, filling the key diplomatic post as the country is fighting a war with Hamas.
A Trusted Leader with a Wealth of Government Experience
Lew, a treasury secretary under President Barack Obama, was confirmed 53-43. President Joe Biden nominated Lew, who goes by Jack, last month to fill the post left vacant when Tom Nides left as ambassador in July. Democrats say Lew’s wealth of government experience — he also was chief of staff to Obama and White House budget director under Obama and President Bill Clinton — makes him the right person to fill the post at a critical moment in the two countries’ relationship.
Strengthening the Ties Between the United States and Israel
He has promised to stand side by side with Israel’s leaders as they respond to the militant group’s surprise attack on Oct. 7, telling senators in his confirmation hearing in mid-October that “at this moment, there is no greater mission than to be asked to strengthen the ties between the United States and the state of Israel.”
Leading Efforts to Support Israel
U.S. National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said after Lew’s confirmation that the administration is eager for him “to get on the ground and start leading our efforts to support Israel and their fight against Hamas, but also to help us integrate and continue to lead the effort to get humanitarian assistance to the people of Gaza.”
Critics Express Concerns
Republicans criticized Lew for his role in the Obama White House when it negotiated the Iran nuclear agreement in 2015, among other foreign policy moves. The deal with Iran — the chief sponsor of Hamas — was later scuttled by former President Donald Trump.
Lew’s Appointment as Ambassador to Israel
Idaho Senator Jim Risch, a prominent member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, strongly criticized the appointment of Lew as the Ambassador to Israel. Risch stated that Lew is the wrong person for the job and that his views on how to handle Iran are contrary to their own.
On the other hand, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin, a Democrat from Maryland, supported Lew’s appointment. Cardin highlighted Lew’s strong relationships with Israeli leaders and emphasized his ability to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israel as the United States works closely with the country.
Cardin also praised Lew’s qualifications and commitment to the issues affecting the region. According to Cardin, there is no doubt that Lew is the most suitable individual to represent America as an ambassador to Israel.
During the hearing, Lew defended his work in the Obama White House and condemned Iran as an “evil, malign government.” He made it clear that Iran poses a threat not only to regional stability but also to Israel’s very existence.
Lew expressed his sympathy for the civilians who have suffered casualties on both sides of the conflict. He stressed that the fighting must come to an end, but it should not compromise Israel’s security.
As someone who is Jewish, Lew emphasized that Israel’s struggle for security has always been at the forefront of his mind.
It remains to be seen how Lew’s appointment will be received by both Republicans and Democrats in the Senate.