WASHINGTON (JTA) — Thomas Nides, a deputy secretary of state during the Obama administration, is seen as the likeliest choice to become U.S. ambassador to Israel.
The Washington Post first reported the likelihood of a Nides nomination last week, and sources close to the Biden administration officials in on the decision have confirmed that he is the front-runner.
Nides, who is Jewish, was the deputy secretary of state for management and resources from 2011 to 2013. Interlocutors who dealt with Israel issues remember him as a hardworking and receptive interlocutor. However, his job in that position had more to do with administrative functions at State and less with policy, and Israel barely came up.
That and his career in banking outside of government make Nides something of a blank slate to the pro-Israel community. In contrast, some of the other names that have come up in speculation about the ambassadorship have longstanding ties with the Israeli and pro-Israel establishment, among them Robert Wexler, the former Florida congressman.
Naming as ambassador someone with a rank just below Cabinet-level in a previous administration would nonetheless be a signal to Israel of the importance Biden attaches to the position.