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Bennett announces Michael Isaac Herzog as US ambassador pick

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Prime Minister Naftali Bennett officially announced on Friday that Michael Herzog, a national security expert and veteran peace negotiator who is also President Isaac Herzog’s brother, will be Israel’s ambassador to the US.

Bennett chose Herzog “in light of his rich, years-long experience in the security and diplomatic fields, and his deep familiarity with the strategic challenges Israel is facing, foremost the Iranian nuclear threat.” 

The prime minister plans to bring the nomination to the cabinet for approval on Sunday.

Herzog, 69, was a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and at the Jewish People Policy Institute in recent years. He had a long IDF career including as head of strategic planning, and retired a brigadier-general. 

He later served as a senior adviser to defense ministers Ehud Barak, Amir Peretz, Shaul Mofaz and Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, including as chief of staff to the defense minister.

Herzog was former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s special envoy on the peace process 2009-2010, and was a negotiator in the secret channel between Israel and the Palestinians 2013-2014. He previously participated in most rounds of peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians, Jordanians and Syrians, including the Wye Plantation summit, Camp David summit, Annapolis and others hosted by the Americans, and as such has many connections in Washington.

The ambassadorial candidate already has a relationship with US President Joe Biden and Secretary of State Antony Blinken, as well as with US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan, White House Coordinator for the Middle East and North Africa Brett McGurk, and Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman.

Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid agree on Herzog’s nomination, as one of Bennett’s criteria for choosing a new ambassador was for him or her to be someone Lapid would be likely to keep in Washington if the current government stays intact and Lapid becomes prime minister at the end of next year, as scheduled.

Appointing someone viewed as one of Israel’s top security experts and also someone whose career has been apolitical – despite coming from a famous Labor Party family – is “meant to send a message” to Washington, the source in Jerusalem said.

Current Ambassador to the US Gilad Erdan tendered his resignation in June, but is expected to remain Israel’s envoy at the UN.


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