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House lawmakers urge administration to ‘immediately’ nominate Abraham Accords ambassador

33 lawmakers said Biden should name an envoy ‘as soon as possible,’ adding that they’re aware of no progress in that direction

Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, United Arab Emirates Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Bahrain Foreign Minister Khalid bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, stand on the Blue Room Balcony during the Abraham Accords signing ceremony on the South Lawn of the White House, Tuesday, Sept. 15, 2020, in Washington.

A bipartisan group of 33 House lawmakers wrote to President Joe Biden on Thursday urging him to “immediately” nominate an ambassador-level envoy for the Abraham Accords and Middle East normalization, a position established by Congress late last year.

Legislation establishing the post, which requires Senate confirmation, was approved as part of the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act in December 2023, but no deadline was provided for the administration to name an ambassador. Lawmakers are alleging that no progress has been made.

“It is incumbent that you nominate an Envoy as soon as possible in accordance with the FY24 NDAA,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden.

Daniel Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel, was appointed to a similar role in July 2023, as a senior adviser for regional integration at the State Department, without Senate confirmation. But Shapiro left the post in January, moving to the Pentagon, and has not been replaced.

“Unfortunately, since this position was created in December, it is our understanding that no progress has been made to nominate an Envoy,” the lawmakers wrote. “In fact, at a House Foreign Affairs Committee Subcommittee hearing on June 23, U.S. Assistant Secretary for Near Eastern Affairs Barbara Leaf stated that there is not even a short list.”

They said that filling the post would help show Israel and the international community that the U.S. remains interested in normalization.

The letter was led by Reps. Mike Lawler (R-NY) and Ritchie Torres (D-NY), who introduced the bill establishing the ambassador post.

“Time is of the essence in the battle for Israel and the region’s future, and now more than ever, the administration must nominate an Envoy for the Abraham Accords,” Torres said in a statement. “Israel’s strategic allies in the region counteract Iran and its army of proxies in their never-ending battle to wipe Israel off the face of the Earth. With the oversight of the Envoy, the administration will be empowered to continue in its work of building towards a lasting peace in the region.”

Lawler said that the Oct. 7 attacks had made the Abraham Accords “more important than ever before.”

“It is critical that President Biden wake up to this simple fact and move expeditiously to nominate someone to fill the role of presidential envoy for the Abraham Accords, Negev Forum, and related integration and normalization fora and agreement,” he said.

The letter was co-signed by Reps. Lori Chavez-DeRemer (R-OR), Juan Ciscomani (R-AZ), Ben Cline (R-VA), Anthony D’Esposito (R-NY), Pat Fallon (R-TX), Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA), Andrew Garbarino (R-NY), Carlos Gimenez (R-FL), Josh Gottheimer (D-NJ), Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Thomas Kean (R-NJ), David Kustoff (R-TN), Nick LaLota (R-NY), Nick Langworthy (R-NY), Nicole Malliotakis (R-NY), Marc Molinaro (R-NY), Jared Moskowitz (D-FL), Andrew Ogles (R-TN), John Rutherford (R-FL), Maria Elvira Salazar (R-FL), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Adrian Smith (R-NE), Elise Stefanik (R-NY), Haley Stevens (D-MI), Claudia Tenney (R-NY), Ann Wagner (R-MO), Michael Waltz (R-FL), Randy Weber (R-TX), Brandon Williams (R-NY) and Joe Wilson (R-SC), as well as Resident Commissioner Jenniffer González-Colón (R-PR).

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