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Biden’s nominee for US envoy to Israel testifies at Senate confirmation hearing

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US President Biden's Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 22, 2021. (Screen capture/Senate Foreign Relations Committee)
US President Biden's Ambassador to Israel Tom Nides testifies before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on September 22, 2021. (Screen capture/Senate Foreign Relations Committee)

In the opening remarks at his confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, US President Biden’s nominee as ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, says his top priorities if confirmed will include strengthening Israel’s security, expanding the US-Israel economic relationship, cooperating with Israel on foreign investment to counter China and strengthening the Abraham Accords.

“Israel is one of our closest security partners in countering the broad spectrum of threats, chief among them is the critical threat that Iran poses. President Biden has made it clear his commitment to ensure that Iran will never develop a nuclear weapon. Upholding Israel’s security serves America’s national security interest and ensures that we will always have a strong reliable and secure partner,” Nides says.

Commenting on US-Israel economic ties, Nides says that “Israel’s start-up nation is welcoming to US business” and that US companies have established more than two-thirds of the over 300 foreign investment and development centers in Israel.

He also notes Biden’s stated commitment to work with Israel to have the Jewish state added to the US visa waiver program.

The Biden nominee says the US will work with other Democracies to combat “international institutional biases against Israel,” adding that the US administration will continue to oppose the Boycott Divestment and Sanctions movement. “If confirmed, while respecting the rights of all Americans to free speech, I will continue the tireless work of this administration to firmly reject the BDS movement and boycott laws,” he continues.

“The Abraham Accords — yes, the Abraham Accords — are critical to the region’s stability and prosperity,” Nides says, in his own attempt to put to bed any remaining speculation that the Biden administration might have an apprehension to using the Trump team-coined term for the normalization agreements between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world.

“I will personally support every effort to expand cooperation between Israel and countries in the Arab and Muslim world, and I hope to strengthen the Abraham Accords and identify opportunities to expand Israel’s relationships [with] additional countries in the Arab and Muslim world,” he says.

Nides then goes on to parrot a frequently used Biden administration talking point that “while we support the normalization between Israel and other countries, it is not a substitute for Israel-Palestinian peace, and we seek to harness existing and future agreements to make tangible improvements for the Palestinian people, with a view of preserving the vision of a negotiated two-state solution.”

Nides says he is “committed to doing my part to rebuild the partnership between the American and Palestinian people.”

The nominee concludes by stating that “frank and fruitful dialogues only strengthen our partnership and deepen the bonds between Americans and Israelis.”

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