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The position of U.S. ambassador to Israel was vacant as of Oct. 11, 2023.

It’s one of 39 ambassador vacancies as of Oct. 2 for which nominees from President Joe Biden are awaiting Senate confirmation, according to the American Foreign Service Association.

The Constitution requires Senate confirmation. Tom Nides left the Israel ambassadorship in July.

Biden on Sept. 28 nominated former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to succeed Nides.

Nine days later, the Palestinian group Hamas, designated by the U.S. as a terrorist organization, attacked Israel. Israel, a U.S. ally, in turn declared war.

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee announced Oct. 9 it would hold a confirmation hearing for Lew on Oct. 18.

In July, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Senate diplomatic confirmation delays were undermining national security.

Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has held back the diplomatic nominations while seeking information from the Biden administration on the origins of COVID-19.

This Fact Brief is responsive to conversations such as this one.

Sources Tracker: Current U.S. Ambassadors

AP News: Biden nominates former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to serve as ambassador to Israel

U.S. Senate: U.S. Senate: About Nominations

AP News: Biden nominates former Treasury Secretary Jacob Lew to serve as ambassador to Israel

White House: Nominations Sent to the Senate

U.S. Department of State: Foreign Terrorist Organizations

New York Times: Here’s a timeline of Saturday’s attacks and Israel’s retaliation.

U.S. Department of State: Major Non-NATO Ally Status

AP News: Israel declares war, bombards Gaza and battles to dislodge Hamas fighters after surprise attack

Reuters: U.S. Senate moves quickly toward confirming Lew as ambassador to Israel United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing

Reuters: Biden administration amps up pressure on US Senate over nomination delays

NBC News: Senate Foreign Relations chairman criticizes Sen. Rand Paul for holding up nominations

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Tom Kertscher joined as a Wisconsin Watch fact checker in January 2023 and contributes to our collaboration with the The Gigafact Project to fight misinformation online. Kertscher is a former longtime newspaper reporter, including at the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who has worked as a self-employed journalist since 2019. His gigs include contributing writer for Milwaukee Magazine and sports freelancer for The Associated Press.