(JTA) — Tom Nides, the gregarious U.S. ambassador to Israel, is resigning this summer, at a time of unresolved tensions in the U.S.-Israel relationship he strove to uphold.
An administration official confirmed to the Jewish Telegraphic Agency that Nides would be gone by this summer. The report first appeared in Axios on Tuesday morning. Axios quoted Secretary of State Antony Blinken as saying that Nides wanted to spend more time with his family.
“Tom has worked with characteristic energy and skill to further strengthen the special bond between the United States and Israel, and to advance U.S. diplomatic, economic, and security interests,” Blinken told the online political news site. “We will all miss having him represent us in Israel, but I know he is looking forward to some well-deserved time with his family.”
Nides, a former executive at Morgan Stanley who was a senior State Department official in the Obama administration and who had deep Democratic Party ties, brought an easygoing sensibility to the role, especially to ties between Israel and the U.S. Jewish community.
Nides’ efforts to advance an impression of a conflict-free relationship were undercut by tensions stoked after the election last year of the most far-right government in Israel’s history, led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
The ambassador was at the center of one expression of the tensions when he said in March that he expected President Joe Biden to invite Netanyahu to the White House sometime after Passover. Biden, who sees Netanyahu’s planned weakening of Israel’s judiciary as a threat to Israel’s democracy, immediately poured cold water on that prediction.
“No,” Biden said when asked about a potential invitation to Netanyahu, although Israeli prime ministers routinely visit Washington within months of their election. “Not in the near term.”
In addition to concerns about Netanyahu’s commitment to democracy, the Biden administration is also chafing at the makeup of Israel’s coalition, which includes ministers with a record of anti-Palestinian activism, and at proposals to advance settlement in the West Bank.
Nides endeavored to keep his public communications positive. A native of the tiny Jewish community in Duluth, Minnesota, he routinely posted short videos and photos on his feed of his meetings with U.S. Jewish delegations on his Twitter feed.
“No way I could pass up the chance yesterday to hang out with some fellow ‘frozen chosen’ from Minnesota,” read a typical tweet last month. “It was great to connect with the Minneapolis Jewish Federation on their visit to Israel, love you guys!”
He also strove to remain above the political fray, posting friendly encounters with his Trump administration predecessor, David Friedman, on social media. The two ambassadors joined last month to lead the annual March of the Living at Auschwitz, commemorating the Holocaust.
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