Former Congressman Steve Israel has removed himself from consideration for the post of U.S. Ambassador to Israel in the Biden administration, while two others – Michael Adler and Amos Hochstein – appear to be in the lead.
Israel confirmed in an email on Thursday that he informed Secretary of State-designate Tony Blinken that he doesn’t see himself as a candidate for that role at this time.
Israel, a Democrat from New York, was one of the names floated for the position. Israel said a major influence in his decision was his desire to spend more time with his family, including his 22-month-old grandson. “I was away from my family for 16 years as a Congressman and just don’t want that separation at this point in my life,” he explained. “I value my relationship with the president and can support his agenda in other ways.”
The former New York lawmaker was a surrogate for the Biden presidential campaign and is currently the director of Cornell University’s nonpartisan Institute of Politics and Global Affairs.
Candidates on the shortlist include former Rep. Robert Wexler, a Democrat from Florida; developer Michael Adler, a close personal friend of Biden; former State Department official Amos Hochstein; and former Deputy Secretary of State Tom Nides. Daniel Shapiro, who served as ambassador to Israel for five years under former President Barack Obama and who still lives in Ra’anana, has always been mentioned as someone who might return to that job if he’s not appointed to a position at the State Department.
In an interview on Thursday, Adler said he is “confident” that he would be “afforded a role” in the administration, and “would be very excited and honored” to serve if offered the role of ambassador. “I want — for Israel and the United States — the role of ambassador to Israel to be the person that this administration feels could do the best job in fostering the positive relationship there and I think that I could potentially be that person,” Adler said.
Hochstein, who worked on Middle East issues both as a staffer on Capitol Hill and in the State Department, and served as a mediator on the maritime border dispute between Lebanon and Israel in the Obama administration, is also being considered for the post, sources familiar with the discussions said.
Adler, who is in regular contact with White House officials, said he expects a decision to be made in the coming weeks and that unless the process is expedited an announcement is not imminent.
Jacob Kornbluh is the Forward’s senior political reporter. Follow him on Twitter @jacobkornbluh or email firstname.lastname@example.org.