Over a year on, Senate confirms appointment of Biden nominee for senior State Dept. post

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

Then-US ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf. (Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./US Air Force)
Then-US ambassador to the UAE Barbara Leaf. (Tech. Sgt. Anthony Nelson Jr./US Air Force)

The Senate has voted to confirm the appointment of Barbara Leaf to serve as assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern affairs.

Leaf was nominated by US President Joe Biden last April, but confirmation hearings and votes were repeatedly blocked by Republican senators.

In the meantime, Leaf served as senior director for Middle East and North Africa Affairs on the White House National Security Council, a post that did not require Senate confirmation.

A longtime diplomat, she was US ambassador to the UAE during the Trump administration.

Fifty-four senators voted in favor of her confirmation, with Republicans Lisa Murkowski, Mitch McConnell, Rand Paul, Susan Collins, Rob Portman and Mitt Romney joining the Democratic caucus in supporting Leaf. Forty-four GOP senators voted against confirming Biden’s nominee.

Leaf will replace Yael Lempert, who has been serving as acting assistant secretary for the past year, recently playing an active role in US efforts to de-escalate tensions in Jerusalem. Lempert is expected to continue in the office, serving as Leaf’s deputy.

It is not immediately clear whether a replacement will be named for Leaf in the NSC, where she worked under Middle East and North Africa Coordinator Brett McGurk.

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