Wexler is a leading candidate for Israel’s ambassador, but the position may remain vacant 2023

Two Jewish Insider sources familiar with the confirmation process believe former Florida Democrat Robert Wexler will succeed Tom Nides as U.S. ambassador to Israel. Observers say time and politics may prohibit the administration from naming a new ambassador before the November 2024 presidential elections.

One source said Wexler, who served in the House from 1997 to 2010 and is now head of the S. Daniel Abraham Center for Middle East Peace, “is in a strong position and has already established relationships with the Israelis.”

Former Rep. Steve Israel (D-NY), Democratic fundraiser Michael Adler, U.S. ambassador to Belgium Daniel Shapiro, and Deputy Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism Aaron Keyak are also candidates.

Keyak was interim special envoy during Ambassador Deborah Lipstadt’s protracted confirmation process.

Adler would have to leave his coveted Brussels job, and Israel, a political pundit and Long Island bookshop owner, may not want to return to politics. Shapiro is N7 Initiative director and Atlantic Council Middle East Programs distinguished fellow. The Biden administration considered Israel, Adler, Shapiro, and Wexler for the job.

Wexler told JI, “There is nothing to share at this time.” Israel and Shapiro declined comment.

One source said, “the question is whether Wexler can pass the Senate.” The administration may have trouble finding a Senate candidate with Republican backing.

Before the 2024 election, the government may not have time or political capital to nominate, confirm, train, deploy, and orient an ambassador.

Senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace Aaron David Miller thinks the government will maintain Deputy Chief of Mission Stephane Hallet as charge d’affaires until President Joe Biden’s reelection campaign ends. One possible source agreed.

As the presidential contest continues, risk aversion will affect foreign policy. Domestic politics will restrict more. Miller said, “I don’t know where a U.S. ambassador fits in the grand scheme of things or how urgent it is to have a very strong DCM.” Nobody wants a legislative fight on this topic. Therefore, why rush if you cannot find a Teflon-resistant candidate who would sail through confirmation?”

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