President Joe Biden is nominating former US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as his ambassador to Israel at a fraught moment in US-Israel ties.
Lew, who also served as chief of staff during the Obama administration, will likely face a tough confirmation battle as Republicans seek to challenge Biden’s policies toward Israel.
Tensions between Biden and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing government have persisted for months, in part over contentious judicial reforms and what Biden regards as extremist positions taken by members of Netanyahu’s government. Israel’s moves to expand settlements in the occupied West Bank have also drawn US criticism.
Biden and Netanyahu are expected to meet sometime this fall in the United States after a prolonged period without face-to-face talks. The two men have known each other for decades.
Even amid the tensions, Biden is looking to secure a normalization agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia in the hopes of bringing more stability to the Middle East.
Lew, who has been working in private equity in recent years, declined to comment. He would replace Tom Nides as US ambassador to Israel. Nides, who is married to Virginia Moseley, the executive vice president of editorial for CNN US, departed the post earlier this summer.
Aside from his posts at the White House and Treasury, Lew served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources, and as the director of the Office of Management and Budget. He practices Orthodox Judaism and is 67 years old.