AP Source: Biden to name Tom Nides ambassador to Israel

Politics

President Joe Biden walks to Marine One upon departure from the Ellipse at the White House, Saturday, May 22, 2021, in Washington. Biden is en route to Camp David. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden is expected to name former senior State Department official Tom Nides to serve as ambassador to Israel, according to a person familiar with the matter.

Nides is currently the managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley. He previously served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Hillary Clinton from 2011 to 2013. The official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss the yet-to-be announced pick, said Nides has already been formally offered the position.

The president is expected to soon announce the pick, though exact timing remains unclear, according to a second person familiar with the deliberations. The official, who was not authorized to comment publicly, added that Biden had made his choice for the Israel ambassadorship and vetting was underway.

The White House declined to comment on Nides’ forthcoming nomination.

Robert Wexler, a former Democratic congressman from Florida, was also receiving serious consideration for the high-profile post, officials said.

Getting an ambassador in place in Israel has become a high priority for the administration after this month’s 11-day war between Israel and Hamas that killed more than 250 people —mostly Palestinians — and displaced tens of thousands from the Gaza Strip. The fighting marked the most significant clashes between Israel and Hamas since 2014.

Israelis complained in the weeks following Biden’s inauguration in January that he was slow to name his envoy and to reach out to Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Some Israeli officials worried that the relative early silence forecast a chillier relationship between the two close allies after former President Donald Trump’s warm embrace.

Biden, who spoke to Netanyahu for the first time about four weeks after his swearing in, had put off his first call with Netanyahu, in part, because he first wanted to speak with key European allies as he weighed his steps on reviving the Iran nuclear deal hatched during the Obama administration and shelved by the Trump White House. Netanyahu strongly opposes the deal.

But the official said that the Biden administration’s diplomatic efforts with Israel even before this month’s fighting had been complicated by Israel’s own chaotic politics in the leadup to the fourth round of elections there in March.

Nides launched his Washington career in 2006 working for Rep. Tony Coelho, the Democratic majority whip. He also worked for Democratic House Speaker Tom Foley early in his career. During the Clinton administration, he served as chief of staff to the United States Trade Representative Mickey Kantor. Barack Obama nominated him in 2010 to serve as deputy secretary of state for management and resources.

In addition to his work at Morgan Stanley, Nides has also done stints as a top executive at Fannie Mae, Credit Suisse First Boston, Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group, and the global public relations firm Burson-Marsteller.

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