Biden taps Tom Nides, an Obama administration official, to be ambassador to Israel


WASHINGTON (JTA) — President Joe Biden will name Tom Nides, a deputy secretary of state in the Obama administration, to be his ambassador to Israel.

The Times of Israel first reported the decision. Multiple sources close to the Biden administration confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Nides was the pick for ambassador and would be announced soon. The White House said it had nothing yet to announce.

It was down to Nides and Robert Wexler, a former Florida congressman who for years has helmed the Center for Middle East Peace, a group that advocates backchannel diplomacy between Israel and the Palestinians.

A number of centrist and liberal pro-Israel figures were pushing Wexler, believing he had the deeper experience because of his ties and frequent visits to the region. Both Nides and Wexler are Jewish.

Nides, a banker, was the deputy secretary of state for management and resources from 2011 to 2013 and had good relations with Israeli diplomats, although he was less involved in substantive diplomacy. Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador in his book “Ally” chronicling his ambassadorship, described Nides as “irreverent, hard-working, highly intelligent, and warm.” Oren said Nides quickly earned his “affection and trust.”

Wexler in an interview said he called Nides to congratulate him and was ready to assist him in any way he needed.

The former congressman said his experience in the region, which included outreach to actors on both sides perceived to be extremist, was that the United States would have to accommodate more “illiberal” elements if it wanted to advance peace.

“It’s critical that the policymakers of the U.S. government engage with illiberal actors in the Palestinian territories and in Israel,” Wexler said. “That’s how we will alter the political dynamics in a favorable manner.”

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