Senate Holding Up Confirmation of New U.S. Ambassador to Israel

The Senate will not likely vote in the remaining months of the Reagan administration to confirm William Brown as ambassador to Israel, knowledgeable sources said Thursday.

The current ambassador, Thomas Pickering, has served in that post since Aug. 1, 1985, and is the most senior member of the State Department’s Foreign Service.

Brown, the U.S. ambassador to Thailand, was second in command at the U.S. Embassy in Tel Aviv under Pickering’s predecessor, Samuel Lewis. He was nominated in May to replace Pickering.

It is up to Sen. Claiborne Pell (D-R.I.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, to schedule nomination hearings.

While a committee staffer said that Brown’s paperwork for the nomination “is complete,” his nomination is not on the agenda of the committee’s sole planned hearing before the targeted Oct. 4 recess. In addition, no “lame duck” session of Congress is planned for November or December, following Election Day.

The Washington Post reported Thursday that one reason for not confirming Brown, along with other proposed ambassadors, is that they might not be serving for very long, with a new president being sworn in next January.

A pro-Israel source added that Brown probably will not be confirmed, because his nomination is part of a chain of job swaps, one of which the committee opposes. Members of the panel are said to be against confirming Ronald Spiers, currently undersecretary of state for management, as ambassador to Canada.

The administration’s plan calls for Pickering to get Spiers’ job and Brown to take Pickering’s post in Israel.

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