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Mike Herzog speaks at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Screengrab via YouTube.

Mike Herzog, Israel’s new ambassador to the U.S., arrived in Washington over the weekend and started work on Monday.

Why it matters: As the most experienced and knowledgeable official in the Israeli government on the U.S.-Israel relationship, Herzog is expected to be the senior figure in Israeli diplomacy with the U.S.

  • He has personal relationships with top officials including President Biden and Secretary of State Tony Blinken. He's also the brother of Israeli President Isaac Herzog.
  • Herzog, a retired general, is a veteran of several rounds of Israeli-Palestinian peace talks, including during the Obama administration.

His arrival will fill a vacuum in Washington. The previous ambassador, Gilad Erdan, was a Netanyahu appointee and had been based in New York because he also represented Israel at the UN.

  • Erdan effectively became a lame duck after the new Israeli government was formed in June and thus Israel lacked an empowered ambassador in Washington for five months.
  • In the meantime, the relationship was handled by advisers to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid who were less experienced and didn't have prior relationships with most of the key players in the Biden administration.

What’s next: Biden's ambassador to Israel, Tom Nides, was recently confirmed by the Senate and is expected to arrive in Jerusalem right after Thanksgiving.

  • He'll also be filling a vacuum, as the U.S. hasn't had an ambassador in Israel for nearly a year and was represented by a charge d’affaires in Michael Ratney, who didn't have a close relationship with Blinken or Biden.

Go deeper

Nov 24, 2021 - World

Israeli diplomat: New regional alliances "keep the Iranians up at night"

Photo: Mazen Mahdi AFP via Getty

MANAMA, Bahrain — The diplomat who transitioned Israel's secret relationship with Bahrain into a public one tells Axios that Israel's burgeoning partnerships in the region "keep the Iranians up at night."

What he's saying: "The Iranians opened a front against us in Syria and Lebanon, but now when they look across the Gulf, they see us there with our allies very close to them," says Itay Tagner, the outgoing head of mission at the new Israeli Embassy in Bahrain, who previously led the secret Israeli diplomatic mission in Manama.

Nov 24, 2021 - World

Israel and Morocco sign defense deal

Benny Gantz (right) signs the agreement with Abdellatif Loudiyi. Photo: Ariel Hermony/Israeli Ministry of Defense

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz signed a defense cooperation agreement with Morocco on Wednesday during the first-ever public visit to the country by an Israeli defense minister.

Why it matters: Israel and Morocco had a secret defense, security and intelligence relationship for decades, but after establishing diplomatic relations, the countries are making it broader and more public.

Updated 12 hours ago - Technology

From Malcolm X to "Free Britney," new media shapes the justice system

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

True crime documentaries, podcasts and social media campaigns are bringing new attention to real-world legal proceedings — and are often affecting the outcome.

Why it matters: New media platforms can instantly put a national spotlight on cases that have long been forgotten or buried under red tape.