Biden nominee for ambassador to Israel blocked by Republican senator

Biden nominee for ambassador to Israel blocked by Republican senator
Republican lawmaker Josh Hawley has objected to the nomination of Thomas Nides for the position of the US ambassador to Israel.
3 min read
03 November, 2021
Josh Hawley said he was objecting on behalf of a number of colleagues [Getty]

President Biden’s nomination for the US Ambassador to Israel has been blocked in the US Senate by Republican lawmaker Josh Hawley.

Missouri senator Hawley has claimed that he is objecting to the nomination of Thomas Nides, and several other ambassador nominees, on behalf of himself and fellow Republicans

“Multiple of my colleagues have objections to all of the nominees, so I will be here to object on their behalf and also on my own behalf with regard to a few of them,” Hawley said. 

Nides, a former top banker at Morgan Stanley who has spent his adult life in Democratic politics, served in the US State Department when Barack Obama was president and defended funding for the Palestinians.

Hawley's objections drew cries of “obstructionism” from Democratic senators, including Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer.

“The president relies on an army of dedicated public servants who play a critical role in our government,” explained Schumer.

“But for months, some Senate Republicans have gone to great lengths to place pointless holds on over a hundred of these nominees. The consequence - scores of empty desks in the state department and our embassies and department of treasury and other agencies,” he added.

Schumer continued to lambast Hawley, noting that by this point in the Trump presidency, both sides of the house had worked together to approve the nomination of 32 ambassadors. 

“Most of us didn't like the Trump administration or the people he's appointing, but we had enough integrity not to let politics enter into what had been routine decisions. Right now, Republican obstructionism has meant only four nominees have been agreed to,” Schumer said.

Senator Hawley is known as a strong supporter of former President Trump, and has been accused of fuelling the rise of domestic extremism, with his support of the 6 January insurrectionists. 

Hawley rejected the accusations of obstructionism, insisting that a vote was needed to confirm the appointment of the vital diplomatic positions. 

“The Senate Majority leader's comments as if he has no control over the calendar - he's the majority leader of the United States Senate - he decides when we vote, he decides what we vote on,” Hawley said. 

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Democratic Senator Bob Menendez joined Schumer to castigate Hawley’s obstructions. 

“We will have no ambassador in Israel as we deal with the challenges of Iran and others in the region,” he said. 

“It is mind-boggling; all of those who get up here and talk about our ally, the state of Israel, the importance of the state of Israel, but we won't have an ambassador there to help us meet the challenges that Israel has,” Menendez added.

Outside the senate, policy groups also questioned the objections to Thomas Nides’ nomination. 

“A strong US-Israel relationship requires strong diplomatic representation, allowing both sides to work in close partnership and resolve disagreements amicably,” the Israel Policy Forum said in a statement. 

“We are dismayed that Tom Nides, who is unquestionably qualified to serve as ambassador to Israel, continues to be blocked from a swift confirmation on the Senate floor. We call on the Senate to act so that Mr. Nides can begin the critical task of representing the US and its interests in Jerusalem,” they added.