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Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on Friday nominated Mike Herzog as Israel's next ambassador to Washington. Herzog, who is one of Israel’s most experienced and respected strategic thinkers, is the brother of Israel’s President Issac Herzog.

Why it matters: Herzog will be a key player in building the relationship between the new Israeli government and the Biden administration — navigating the differences on thorny issues like the Iran nuclear deal and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

The big picture: The Israeli government grew much closer to the Republican Party during Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years as prime minister, mainly under the Trump administration.

  • Netanyahu had a very tense relationship with President Obama, and over this period of time Israel lost its status as a bipartisan foreign policy issue in America.

Between the lines: Herzog is very different from Netanyahu confidant Ron Dermer, who served as Israel ambassador to Washington for eight years and was perceived by Democrats as a Republican political operative.

  • Herzog, who worked in recent years as a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, is very well known and respected in U.S. foreign policy and national security circles. He has close relationships with both Democrats and Republicans.
  • Herzog has personal and professional relationships with many senior officials in the Biden administration, including Secretary of State Blinken, national security adviser Jake Sullivan and many other senior White House, State Department, Pentagon and CIA officials.
  • Herzog is a centrist and a moderate. He supports a two-state solution and opposed Netanyahu’s public confrontation with Obama over the Iran deal – including his speech to Congress in March 2015.

Flashback: Herzog, 69, is a reserve lieutenant general and served for 40 years in Israel’s military intelligence and ministry of defense. He was chief of staff and military adviser to four Israeli ministers of defense.

  • Herzog was involved in numerous rounds of talks between Israel and the Palestinians — most recently between 2009-2014 under the Obama administration — and worked very closely with both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and John Kerry.
  • He served as Prime Minister Netanyahu’s envoy to the secret talks with Palestinian President Abbas' confidant Hussein Agha between 2013 and 2014.

What’s next: Herzog is expected to be confirmed by the government soon and could take part in Bennett’s trip to Washington later this August.

  • Herzog will be appointed for a four-year term, and will stay as ambassador when foreign minister Yair Lapid rotates into the prime minister's job in less than two years — if the government manages to hold together until then.

Go deeper

Oct 21, 2021 - World

Scoop: Israel and France hold secret talks to end NSO spyware crisis

Anyone listening? Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

Israeli national security adviser Eyal Hulata secretly visited Paris several days ago for talks with his counterparts at the Élysée aimed at ending the crisis around the alleged use of Pegasus spyware developed by Israeli firm NSO to hack the cell phones of President Emmanuel Macron and other top French officials, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: The alleged misuse of NSO software has become a major diplomatic headache for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett's government. The crisis led to a partial freeze on diplomatic, security and intelligence cooperation between Israel and France and the suspension of high-level bilateral visits.

Updated 18 mins ago - Science

Nor'easter slams East Coast with flooding rain and powerful winds

A residential area in Middlesex County as floodwater from the nor'easter covers streets in New Jersey on Tuesday. Photo: Tayfun Coskun/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

A monster storm was slamming the Northeast with record rainfall and powerful winds over Tuesday night — causing flash flooding that resulted in people having to be rescued in New Jersey and New York roads to close.

Threat level: All of southern New England westward to New York City and northern New Jersey was under the threat of flash flooding and coastal flooding from the nor'easter through Tuesday night into early Wednesday, per the National Weather Service.

Updated 3 hours ago - World

Brazil senators vote to recommend criminal charges for Bolsonaro

Brazilian senators vote on probe into President Bolsonaro's handling of pandemic. Photo: Gustavo Minas/Bloomberg via Getty Images

A Brazilian Senate committee Tuesday voted to approve a report recommending President Jair Bolsonaro be charged with a raft of criminal indictments, including crimes against humanity over his response to the COVID-19 pandemic, per AP.

Why it matters: Bolsonaro has become the face of a right-wing approach to the pandemic that includes repudiating vaccines and masks and resisting lockdowns and other mitigation measures. The Senate report holds him personally responsible for half of the country's 600,000 deaths.