Israeli PM nominates Michael Herzog as new ambassador to US

Former diplomatic envoy is the brother of Israel’s President Isaac Herzog

Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett has nominated a former defence minister's chief of staff as the country's ambassador to the US, saying his expertise on Iran will be vital to the role.

Michael Herzog was chosen for his experience “in the security and diplomatic arenas, and his deep familiarity with the strategic issues facing the state of Israel, especially the Iranian nuclear issue”, the prime minister’s office said.

Having spent four decades within the military establishment, Mr Herzog spent five years as a diplomatic envoy to former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and worked on Palestinian-Israeli peace negotiations.

He is the brother of Israel’s President Isaac Herzog.

In announcing the decision on Friday, Mr Bennett’s office said the prime minister wished Mr Herzog success “given the significant challenges in the diplomatic arena”.

US President Joe Biden is among those trying to revive a nuclear accord that world powers signed with Iran in 2015, only for Washington to withdraw from the deal in 2018 under Donald Trump’s leadership.

Israel is opposed to the agreement with Iran, whose government agreed to curb its nuclear programme in exchange for sanctions relief under the 2015 deal.

The Israeli Cabinet must approve Mr Herzog’s appointment before he can take up his post in Washington, although the move already has the backing of Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

“He’s exactly the right person to serve in this strategically important role,” Mr Lapid wrote on Twitter.

Under an eight-party coalition agreement, Mr Lapid is set to take over as prime minister in 2023 for two years.

The outgoing ambassador to Washington, Gilad Erdan, was appointed under Mr Netanyahu and announced his resignation in June after the inauguration of the new coalition.

Mr Erdan was also serving as Israel’s envoy to the UN and has voiced his intention to remain in that position.

Updated: August 8th 2021, 2:58 PM
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