WASHINGTON – The US Senate on Wednesday confirmed Thomas R. Nides to serve as the next ambassador to Israel. He was confirmed by a voice vote. He previously served as deputy secretary of state for management and resources under Hillary Clinton from 2011 to 2013.
He was also awarded the secretary of state’s Distinguished Service Award in January 2013. Nides was born to a Jewish family in Duluth, Minnesota. He started his career on Capitol Hill in various positions, including as assistant to the House majority whip and executive assistant to the speaker of the House. He later spent a decade as chief of staff for several members of Congress before pivoting to the banking sector in 1996.
Israel’s Ambassador to the UN and the US Gilad Erdan congratulated Nides on Twitter. “I wish you much success in your role and a fruitful tenure at the US Embassy in Israel’s eternal capital, Jerusalem,” he wrote. “I’m sure that you will further strengthen the special bond between Israel and the US.”
In his confirmation hearing at the Senate Foreign Relation Committee, he said that replenishing Israel’s Iron Dome missile-defense system is in the best interest of American national security.
“This is a defensive mechanism. It is to stop rockets from raining in on Israel. We are supportive of the replenishment and it is in our national security interest,” said Nides, in a hearing that took place in September.
He said that the president supports Iron Dome funding, which supports “a very important ally in the region.”
At the committee hearing, Nides vowed to support the Abraham Accords; to oppose the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement; and to continue “advancing the bonds between our people,” including the visa waiver program.
Nides’s confirmation came just 24 hours after a similar attempt to confirm him on a voice vote which failed.
US Sen. Josh Hawley (R-Missouri) voted on Tuesday to block eight of President Joe Biden’s ambassador nominees, including Nides. Sen. Bob Menendez (D-New Jersey), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, asked the Senate to confirm several nominees by unanimous consent.
Hawley said he objects on behalf of himself and several of his Republican colleagues. “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,” he said.
Prior to the vote, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the Republicans for their objection, calling it “obstructionism.”
“The president relies on an army of dedicated public servants who play a critical role in our government,” said 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.”
“The United States remains unwavering in its commitment to Israel’s security, supported by our 10-year, $38 billion memorandum of understanding,” he said.
Speaking about the Iranian threat, Nides said that Biden “has made clear his commitment to ensure that Iran never develops a nuclear weapon” and that “upholding Israel’s security serves America’s national security interests and ensures that we will always have a strong, reliable and secure partner.”
Nides also said the US is committed “to advancing the bonds between our people,” adding that, “President Biden announced we will work with Israel in hopes of them joining the visa waiver program.”
According to his biography on the State Department’s website, before joining Morgan Stanley, Nides served as worldwide president and CEO of Burson-Marsteller, and as CEO of Credit Suisse First Boston, the investment banking division of Zurich-based Credit Suisse Group.
The American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) tweeted: “We congratulate Thomas Nides on his confirmation as U.S. Ambassador to Israel. We wish him great success in this critical position.”