Oct. 31 (UPI) -- The Senate on Tuesday confirmed former Treasury Secretary Jack Lew as the new U.S. ambassador to Israel in a quick vote to fill the role, which has been vacant since July, amid Israel's war in Gaza.
"The Senate, I'm proud to say, has now taken an extremely important step in our support of Israel," said Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. "With Israel defending itself against Hamas, this ambassadorship is as important and timely as any nomination that the Senate has confirmed in a long time."
The Senate voted 53 to 43 to confirm Lew despite stiff opposition from Republicans over his involvement in the Iran nuclear deal during the Obama administration.
"As Obama's Treasury secretary, Jack Lew was a key figure in the disastrous Iran nuclear deal. Iran is the chief sponsor of Hamas. Jack Lew has no business being the U.S. Ambassador to Israel," Sen. Eric Schmitt, R-Mo., wrote in a post on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter.
President Joe Biden nominated Lew in September. The United States has not had an ambassador in Israel since July, when Tom Nides stepped down after nearly two years on the job.
Lew served as President Barack Obama's chief of staff and as the director of the Office of Management and Budget in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, before leading the Treasury Department from 2013 to 2017.
Since then, Lew has been a visiting professor at Columbia University, managing partner at Lindsay Goldberg LLC, co-president of the board of the National Library of Israel USA and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations.
During his confirmation hearing last month, Lew clarified his stance on Iran.
"I want to be clear. Iran is a threat to regional stability and to Israel's existence," Lew told senators.
Iran is not "a rational economic player," but "an evil, malign government that funds its evil and malign activities," Lew said, adding that negotiations with Iran are off the table for now.
"I believe deeply that an agreement to not have nuclear weapons would be a good thing. But this is not the moment."