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Hamas rocket barrages, IDF’s response catch Biden with no envoys in Israel

10 89 31

The fighting between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas terrorist leaders, following violent clashes on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem and amid deadly ethnic rioting between Jews and Arabs in mixed-population cities all over Israel have caught the United States without an ambassador to Israel and with many other key Middle East roles unfilled.

Four months into his tenure, US President Joe Biden has still not announced his choice for US ambassador. Even if a decision were made, the next ambassador would have to go through a Senate hearing process that might take weeks or even months.

By comparison, former president Donald Trump announced the appointment of David Friedman as ambassador to Israel before his own inauguration in January 2016.

A number of key Middle East roles in the Biden administration also remain vacant. In the State Department, the position of assistant secretary of state for Near Eastern Affairs is vacant. The former assistant during the Trump administration, David Schenker, led ongoing talks between Israel and Lebanon on exclusive economic zones amid a dispute over the maritime border between the countries and rights to potentially lucrative offshore gas fields. He was also at the center of the Trump administration’s handling of China’s investments in Israeli infrastructure and the restrictions that the US administration sought to impose on it.

Then US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, center, talks with then Charge D’affaires at the US Embassy in Baghdad Joey Hood, left, in Baghdad, May 7, 2019. (Mandel Ngan/Pool Photo via AP)

The most senior American diplomat in Israel is the chargé d’affaires, Jonathan Schreier, and he is in charge of the American Embassy in Jerusalem, including diplomatic contacts between the United States and Israel.

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Since Biden’s inauguration, Joey Hood has been serving as acting assistant secretary of the Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs. Last week, Hood was scheduled to brief foreign reporters in a conference call. However, on Tuesday, at the end of a tense day in the region, the State Department canceled the briefing. Hady Amr (US State Department)

Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Israeli-Palestinian affairs Hady Amr was rushed out to Israel last week, and was holding talks in Israel on Sunday.

The Biden administration has also not yet picked a special envoy to the region or a consul general for East Jerusalem. The consul general to East Jerusalem’s position disappeared when Trump dissolved the office and transferred all its activities to the embassy in........

© The Times of Israel

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