Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew confirmed as US ambassador to Israel

Jacob Lew, former Treasury Secretary under President Barack Obama, testifies at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing to investigate his nomination as ambassador to the State of Israel.  January 18, 2023, in Washington.  (AP Photo/Stephanie Scarbrough)

(Stephanie Scarbrough/Associated Press)

Former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew confirmed as US ambassador to Israel

Israel-Hamas

MARY CLARE JALONICK

November 1, 2023

The Senate has confirmed Jacob Lew as ambassador to Israel, filling the important diplomatic post now that the country is at war with Hamas.

Lew, who served as Treasury secretary under President Obama, was confirmed by a vote of 53-43.

He has pledged to stand side by side with Israeli leaders as they respond to Hamas’ surprise in October. During his confirmation hearing in mid-October, he told senators that there is no greater mission right now than being asked to strengthen ties between the United States and the State of Israel.

President Biden nominated Lew 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 served as Obama’s chief of staff and White House budget director under Obama and President Clinton – makes him the right person to fill the post at a crucial time in the relationship between the two countries.

US National Security Council spokesman John F. Kirby said after Lew’s confirmation that the Biden administration was eager for him to come on the ground and lead our efforts in support of Israel and their fight against Hamas, but also to help us integrate and continue to lead. the attempt to provide humanitarian aid to the people of Gaza.

Republicans criticized Lew for his role in the Obama White House when he negotiated the Iran nuclear deal in 2015, among other foreign policy moves. The deal with Iran, Hamas’s main sponsor, was later scuttled by former President Trump.

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This is the wrong person in the wrong place at the wrong time, Sen. Jim Risch of Idaho, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said just before the vote. The last thing we need is someone who is very contrary to our views on how to deal with Iran.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Ben Cardin (D-Md.) said Lew had won praise from Israeli leaders and had the appeal of standing shoulder to shoulder with Israel as the United States works with the country.

For me, there is no doubt about his qualifications, no doubt that his presence is welcomed by our Israeli friends, no doubt about his knowledge and commitment to these issues, Cardin said. We couldn’t have a better qualified individual to represent America as our Ambassador to Israel.

During the hearing, Lew defended his work in the Obama White House and called Iran an evil, evil government.

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“I want to be clear that Iran is a threat to regional stability and to Israel’s existence,” Lew said.

He also expressed condolences for civilians on both sides who were injured or killed during the fighting in Israel and Gaza. It must end, Lew said, but it must end with ensuring Israel’s security.

Lew, who is Jewish, said at the hearing that he could not remember a time in his life when Israel’s struggle for security was not at the forefront of my mind.

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