Dr Mike Evans

New Israeli ambassador to US seeks to extend bipartisan outreach

Israeli Ambassador to the US Mike Herzog, brother of President Isaac Herzog and a former retired brigadier general, arrived in Washington on Friday to begin a term of service with the clear goal of restoring America’s traditional bipartisan support for Israel.

His predecessor, Gilad Erdan, was appointed by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Erdan announced his resignation soon after Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s unity government took office, to allow for the appointment of an envoy more in line with the new government’s policies. Though Erdan will no longer serve as ambassador, he will remain part of Israel’s legation at the United Nations.

“The United States is the most important ally of Israel. The special relation[ship] between the two countries [is] based on shared values and close ties between the two peoples,” Erdan said in a statement.

“There is no doubt that [US] President [Joe] Biden is a true friend of Israel. Together, with the administration, we will work to deepen our cooperation,” Herzog added.

The new ambassador will focus on reaching out to US Democrats, whose support for Israel was weakened by Netanyahu’s strong bias toward Republicans on many issues and his personal relationship with former president Donald Trump.

“Bipartisan support for Israel is a fundamental component of our relations with the United States, and I intend to work with both Democrats and Republicans to keep Israel a non-partisan issue,” Herzog said.

Herzog’s new role follows a 40-year career in the IDF, including serving as head of the army’s Strategic Planning Division and serving as chief of staff to multiple defense ministers. Accordingly, he will address many of the shared concerns between Israel and the US. In Bennett’s August meeting with President Joe Biden, the two leaders focused on making sure Iran does not develop a nuclear weapon.

The two nations will also likely seek to optimize and extend the efforts of the Abraham Accords, signed in Washington in 2020. While the accords were signed under former president Donald Trump with leaders from Bahrain and UAE, the agreement continues to expand throughout the Middle East.