The U.S. Senate confirmed the nomination of Jacob (“Jack”) Lew on Tuesday to serve as the next American ambassador to Israel.
The final vote tally was 53-43, with several Republicans, including Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.), voting with Democrats to approve U.S. President Joe Biden’s nominee.
Biden officially appointed Lew on Wednesday night, and an informal swearing-in ceremony was held on Thursday, Emilie Simons, White House deputy press secretary, told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Minneapolis.
The ambassador “will immediately advance our efforts to support the defense of Israel, including by negotiating to secure the release of all hostages, evacuating U.S. citizens from Gaza, increasing the flow of aid to civilians, leading diplomatic efforts to support our Israeli partners while stressing the need to uphold international humanitarian law and supporting U.S. efforts to create the conditions for a humanitarian pause to address the worsening humanitarian conditions facing Palestinian civilians,” Simons said.
Lew’s nomination was accelerated in the aftermath of the Oct. 7 attacks by Hamas terrorists of southern Israel, which killed more than 1,400 people and wounded thousands more, with as many as 250 taken captive into the Gaza Strip.
Lew, a 67-year-old Orthodox Jew, was White House chief of staff under former President Barack Obama, and he directed the Office of Management and Budget under Obama and former President Bill Clinton.
The managing partner of a private equity firm who trained as a lawyer is also a visiting international and public affairs professor at Columbia University. Lew further served as treasury secretary under Obama and was part of the National Security Council in two former administrations.
Lew has come under fire for defending the Iran nuclear deal, which he argued would make Israel safer, and for supporting Obama’s decision in 2016 not to veto United Nations Security Council Resolution 2334, which declared Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria illegal.
Citing personal reasons, Nides announced his departure in May, noting that he had been away from his family for more than 500 days.
U.S. chargé d’affaires Stephanie Hallett, a career diplomat who previously served as deputy chief of mission in Muscat, Oman, and Nicosia, Cyprus, has headed the embassy in Jerusalem since July.