Nides tells panel he looks forward to living in Jerusalem

Senate committee advances nomination of Biden’s pick for ambassador to Israel

Republicans Cruz, Rubio and Haggerty vote against Tom Nides; no date set yet for full Senate vote to confirm envoy, which could still be delayed by GOP

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US bureau chief

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)

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Tuesday advanced the nomination of Tom Nides to serve as the next US ambassador to Israel.

Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and Bill Haggerty were the only members of the 22-person panel who requested to have their opposition marked for the record during the voice vote.

Nides still needs to get through a vote on the Senate floor in order to be confirmed, and while he is expected to receive overwhelming support from both parties, Republicans can hold up the vote from being scheduled.

No reasons were given by the Republicans who objected, but several of them have been working to stymie US President Joe Biden’s agenda.

Cruz has done just that with many of Biden’s nominees, including Barbara Leaf, whom the White House announced would serve as assistant secretary for near eastern affairs last April. Leaf, who served as ambassador to the UAE during the Trump administration, was slated to have her nomination come before the Senate on Tuesday, but it was placed on hold by Cruz, a congressional aide confirmed.

Nides appeared before the Foreign Relations Committee a month ago in a hearing that went largely without incident.

He told the panel he backs providing $1 billion in supplemental aid for the Iron Dome Israeli missile defense system that has become a hot topic in Washington after its approval was delayed by a group of Democrats and most recently by Republican Sen. Rand Paul.

US Sen. Ted Cruz listens during a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on voting rights, on Capitol Hill in Washington, April 20, 2021. (Evelyn Hockstein/Pool via AP, File)

Nides also said that if confirmed, his top priorities 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.

He said he would look forward to living in Jerusalem, which, in line with US policy, he sees as the capital of Israel.

The Trump administration moved the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and sold the ambassador’s residence.

Nides is a former deputy secretary of state for management and resources, who most recently served as managing director and vice chairman of Morgan Stanley. His nomination was announced in June.

While in the State Department, Nides built effective working relationships with several Israeli officials and played a key role in the Obama administration’s approval of an extension on loan guarantees for Israel worth billions of dollars. He also helped carry out Obama’s policy against congressional efforts to limit US support for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNWRA) and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Born in 1961 to a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota, Nides is a banking executive and, if confirmed, would bring both government and private sector experience to the post.

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