Reporting from Washington — President Obama is nominating a top foreign policy aide, Daniel B. Shapiro, as ambassador to Israel — tapping for the sensitive diplomatic post a Hebrew-speaking Middle East specialist who has been in charge of outreach to the American Jewish community.
If he wins Senate confirmation, Shapiro, whose nomination was announced Wednesday, will replace James Cunningham, a George W. Bush appointee who will be rotating out of the job later this year.
Shapiro, 41, who is the National Security Council's top Mideast expert, would lead the embassy at a difficult time in U.S.-Israeli relations. Talks between the Israelis and Palestinians have broken down, leaving the peace process stalled. The Obama administration has clashed with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over Israeli settlements in disputed territories, creating awkward moments between the allies.
White House officials were angered when Israel announced new housing construction in East Jerusalem during a visit by Vice President Joe Biden last year.