Biden’s Ambassador Problem

The U.S. does not currently have an ambassador to Israel or Egypt.

Written by Jack Elbaum

What’s happening: Amid the most significant foreign policy crisis of Joe Biden’s presidency — the Israel-Hamas war — the U.S. does not have ambassadors to the two main state actors involved, Israel and Egypt.

  • Uncharted territory: Council on Foreign Relations fellow Farah Pandith called the current situation “unprecedented,” and that “the value of having a U.S. ambassador on the ground in Israel can't be overstated.”

  • Now: Both nominees recently had hearings in front of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Why it matters: Biden framed his appeal in the 2020 election as a “return to normalcy.” Now, with a multi-front war brewing in the Middle East and vacant ambassador seats for that war’s two major players, the country may start to reassess how well he has lived up to his promise.

Israel: Former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew is Biden’s nominee to become the U.S. Ambassador to Israel. Lew described the Iranian regime as “an evil, malign government” but previously supported the Obama administration’s Iran nuclear deal that would have ultimately allowed Iran to attain nuclear weaponry.

  • Catch up: Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon would pose an existential threat to Israel. Iran's Supreme Leader has expressed his desire for a “final solution” to Israel.

Egypt: Former ambassador to Bulgaria Herro Mustafa Garg is Biden’s nominee for ambassador to Egypt. In recent days, she has promised to push Egypt to allow U.S. citizens out of Gaza and humanitarian aid into Gaza. However, she did not specify how Hamas would be prevented from stealing humanitarian aid to use for terrorism.

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