Kerry confirmed as secretary of state

WASHINGTON (JTA) — The U.S. Senate overwhelmingly confirmed Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) as secretary of state.

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The Senate vote Tuesday was 94-3, setting the stage for Kerry to replace Hillary Rodham Clinton, who was the top U.S. diplomat for all of President Obama’s first term.

Kerry, who has strong ties with a number of Jewish groups stretching back through his decades-long career as a Massachusetts senator, has said that reviving the Israeli-Palestinian peace process and keeping Iran from obtaining a nuclear bomb would be among his priorities.

In a Twitter message, Michael Oren, the Israeli ambassador to Washington, congratulated Kerry and called him a “true friend of Israel.”

A special election will be held by summer to replace Kerry. In the meantime, Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick will name an interim replacement. Among those vying for the interim post is Barney Frank, who just retired from the U.S. House of Representatives.

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