update deskU.S.-Israel Relations

US ambassador to Israel to leave post over summer

Thomas Nides has been away from his family since December 2021.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides attends a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, Sept. 11, 2022. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.
U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides attends a conference at Reichman University in Herzliya, Sept. 11, 2022. Photo by Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90.

U.S. Ambassador to Israel Thomas Nides is set to depart his position this summer after two years in the post.

Nides told senior staff at the embassy on Tuesday morning about his planned departure, Axios reported, citing two U.S. officials.

The ambassador had informed U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken and National Security Adviser Jake Sullivan that he wanted to step down during a trip to Washington last week, one of the officials said.

Nides cited personal reasons, having been away from his family since December 2021.

“Tom has worked with characteristic energy and skill to further strengthen the special bond between the United States and Israel, and to advance U.S. diplomatic, economic and security interests,” Blinken told Axios. “We will all miss having him represent us in Israel but I know he is looking forward to some well-deserved time with his family.”

Nides notified the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office of his decision on Monday.

He has worked with three prime ministers in two years: Benjamin Netanyahu, Naftali Bennett and Yair Lapid.

The ambassador’s tenure hasn’t been free of controversy. In February, he weighed in on the government’s judicial reform plan, saying, “We’re telling the prime minister—as I tell my kids—‘pump the brakes, slow down, try to get a consensus, bring the parties together.’”

The comments earned a rebuke from Diaspora Affairs Minister Amichai Chikli, who told Nides, “slam the breaks on yourself and mind your own business.”

In March 2022, Nides told the far-left group Americans for Peace Now: “Your agenda is where my heart is.”

Nides made waves soon after he arrived in Israel when he announced that he would not visit Jewish communities in Judea and Samaria for fear of offending anyone. More specifically, he slammed “the idea of settlement growth, which infuriates me, when they do things that just infuriate the situation both in east Jerusalem and the West Bank.”

Defending his comments to JNS in October 2022, Nides said, “I will talk to anyone. I try not to do things for the sake of just symbolism to aggravate people. It’d be a big difference if I told you, ‘Oh, I’m never going to talk to anyone who lives in a settlement. I won’t talk to the leadership of the settlement community.’ If people want to come to see me and talk to me about why it’s important they live in the settlements, I’m more than happy to have those conversations in a very clear way. Anyone who’s called me who has a view can come see me and talk to me.”

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