U.S. President Joe Biden nominated Jacob (“Jack”) Lew on Tuesday to serve as U.S. ambassador to Israel.
Washington insiders told JNS last month that Lew, who was seen as a frontrunner to replace Thomas Nides in the position, knows his way around the District and around Israel.
Lew, a 67-year-old Orthodox Jew, was White House chief of staff under President Barack Obama, and he directed the Office of Management and Budget under presidents Obama and 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.
During a U.S. State Department press briefing on July 17, Matt Lee, diplomatic writer for The Associated Press, asked Matthew Miller, the department’s spokesman, about difficulties that U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken predicted getting a replacement for Nides confirmed.
“I’m just curious, because when the secretary said by the end of the summer you won’t have confirmed ambassadors in Egypt, Israel, Jordan or Lebanon. But I don’t think, unless I’m wrong—and please correct me if I’m wrong—that there has been anyone even nominated to replace Tom Nides,” Lee said.
Foggy Bottom can’t complain if it didn’t even nominate a replacement, Lee said.
“If we had a nominee today, that nominee would still face the same blanket hold after that nominee went through the Senate, the regular process,” Miller said.
“You’re complaining about something that’s going to happen later this summer, but you don’t even have anyone in the pipeline,” Lee said.
“I would be more than happy to withdraw the complaint if the Senate decides to start moving on our ambassadors expeditiously,” Miller said.
The nomination came after Labor Day in the end, so the showdown Blinken predicted for summer may well play out in the fall.