Wexler a top candidate for Israel ambassador, but seat may be vacant 2023

Former Florida Democrat Robert Wexler is a leading candidate to replace Tom Nides as U.S. ambassador to Israel, according to two Jewish Insider sources familiar with the confirmation process. Time and political constraints may prevent the administration from nominating a new ambassador before the November 2024 presidential elections, according to observers.

According to one source, Wexler, who served in the House from 1997 to 2010 and is presently the president of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, “is in a strong position and has already established relationships with the Israelis.”

Other candidates being considered are Democratic fundraiser Michael Adler, who is currently the U.S. ambassador to Belgium; former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY); former U.S. Ambassador to Israel Daniel Shapiro, who served from 2011 to 2017; and Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Aaron Keyak.

Keyak was interim special envoy during Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt’s protracted confirmation process.

Adler would have to abandon his present prestigious position in Brussels, and Israel, who currently operates a bookstore on Long Island and is a political commentator, might not want to return to the political arena. Shapiro is the current director of the N7 Initiative and a distinguished fellow in the Middle East Programs of the Atlantic Council. The Biden administration previously considered Israel, Adler, Shapiro, and Wexler for the position.

When asked about a prospective nomination, Wexler told JI, “There is nothing to share at this time.” Israel and Shapiro did not respond to comment requests.

According to one source, it may be difficult for the administration to find a nominee with Republican support in the Senate; therefore, “the question is whether Wexler can pass the Senate.”

In addition, it is uncertain whether the administration has the time or political capital to vet, nominate, confirm, train, deploy, and orient an ambassador prior to the 2024 election.

Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Aaron David Miller believes the administration is inclined toward keeping current Deputy Chief of Mission Stephane Hallet in post as charge d’affaires until President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign concludes. One source who suggested potential candidates for the position concurred that this is a possibility.

“The reality is that from now on, risk aversion will pertain to foreign policy as the race for the presidency progresses. Already a significant constraint, domestic politics will become even more so. Miller stated, “I don’t know where a U.S. ambassador fits in the grand scheme of things or how urgent it is to have a very strong DCM.”

The last thing anyone would want is a congressional battle over this issue. Therefore, if you cannot identify a Teflon-resistant candidate who would cruise through confirmation, why rush?”

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