Cabinet to approve President Herzog's brother as ambassador to US on Sunday

Israeli flag flies at the Israeli Embassy in Washington
(photo credit: REUTERS/GARY CAMERON)

Lapid would be likely to keep Herzog in Washington when he and Bennett alternate.

Veteran political negotiator and brother of President Isaac Herzog, Michael Herzog, is Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s leading candidate for ambassador to the US, a senior source in Jerusalem said on Thursday.

Mike Herzog (far L) with former-president Reuven Rivlin, former-Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein and current President Isaac Herzog. (photographer: CHAIM TZACH/GPO)

Bennett hopes to bring the nomination to the cabinet for approval on Sunday.

Currently a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, Herzog 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.

He 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.

A final decision on the new ambassador will likely be made in the coming days, after Bennett’s incoming National Security Adviser Eyal Hulata and Diplomatic Adviser Shimrit Meir return from Washington, where they met with White House and State Department officials this week, but before Bennett makes his first trip to the White House, likely in the coming weeks.

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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