Thomas R. Nides to be U.S. Ambassador to Israel

13 Going on 14 — GFM: https://gofund.me/32671a27

 

On June 15, President Biden announced his intent to nominate Thomas R. Nides to be the next U.S. Ambassador  to the State of Israel. The WH released the following brief bio:

Thomas Nides is a distinguished public servant and business leader. Nides was the State Department’s Deputy Secretary of State for Management and Resources from 2010 – 2013. Earlier, Nides was Morgan Stanley’s Chief Administrative Officer, Chief Operating Officer and Secretary of the Board, the President and Chief Executive Officer of Burson-Marsteller, in New York and the Chief Administrative Officer of Credit Suisse First Boston in Washington, D.C. Nides was Chief of Staff to the U.S. Trade Representative Micky Kantor, was Senior Advisor to Speaker of the House Thomas S. Foley, and earlier to House Majority Whip Tony Coelho. He currently serves on the boards of the Partnership for Public Service, the International Rescue Committee, the Atlantic Council and the Urban Alliance Foundation, and currently serves as the Managing Director and Vice Chairman of Morgan Stanley. He is a Member of the Council on Foreign Relations and the former Chairman of the Board of the Woodrow Wilson Center appointed by President Obama. Nides received his B.A. degree from the University of Minnesota. He is the recipient of the Secretary of State’s Distinguished Service Award.

If confirmed, Mr. Nides would succeed the bankruptcy lawyer David Friedman who was U.S. Ambassador from 2017-2021.

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US Embassy Israel: Enhanced Screening and Quarantine For U.S. Citizens, and Other Foreign Travelers

On March 10, 2020, the US Embassy in Israel issued a Health Alert noting that effective Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 20:00 (Israel time) foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, arriving from any country will be required to remain in home quarantine until 14 days have passed since the date of entry into Israel.  It notes further that travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice:

Location:  Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza

Event:  The Government of Israel has implemented enhanced screening and quarantine measures for travelers arriving to Israel to reduce the spread of COVID-19.  Effective Thursday, March 12, 2020, at 20:00 (Israel time), foreign travelers, including U.S. citizens, from locations in the United States and all other countries aside from those listed below will be required to remain in home quarantine until 14 days have passed since the date of entry; non-Israeli residents will be required to prove they have the means to self-quarantine to be admitted into Israel.  This restriction is immediate for Israeli citizens and residents.  Hotels may refuse to honor reservations for individuals in quarantine.  Transportation options from the airport to any location may be limited.  Restrictions are continually being updated by the Government of Israel.

The Israeli Population and Immigration Authority will deny entry to any person who is not an Israeli resident or citizen who has traveled in the last 14 days to:

    • China, South Korea, Italy, Iran, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon (applies to connecting flights in these locations)
    • Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Macau, Japan, France, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, Austria, San Marino, Andorra, and Egypt (does not apply to connecting flights in these locations if you did not leave the airport)
    • Any traveler in the last 14 days who attended any gatherings of more than 100 people or an international conference.

In addition, on March 9, 2020, the Israeli Ministry of Health instructed anyone who has visited the West Bank cities of Bethlehem, Beit Jala or Beit Sahour in the last 14 days to enter home quarantine according to the Israeli Ministry of Health’s instructions.  This does not include those who have transited through those areas without stopping.

Visit the Israeli Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 website for updated information and self-quarantine instructions in Israel.  Visit the website of the Palestinian Authority Ministry of Health (available only in Arabic) for additional information on measures in the West Bank:  http://site.moh.ps/index/ArticleView/ArticleId/4839/Language/ar

Travelers should be prepared for travel restrictions to be put into effect with little or no advance notice.  Travelers may be subjected to screening at airports or ports of entry.  Flights into or out of Israel may be cancelled with little or no advance notice.

 

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U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman Touts His Host Country’s One Secret Weapon

 

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Secretary of State Pompeo: It’s “possible” Trump sent by God to save Jewish people from Iran

 

Transcript: 03/21/19 Interview With Chris Mitchell and David Brody of Christian Broadcasting Network;  Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo; David Citadel Hotel; Jerusalem

QUESTION:  Okay.  Look where you are today.  But your faith has informed your views, clearly.  And not only that, but you’re not shy to talk about it.  And I’m wondering about how that – how that really manifests in your life.

SECRETARY POMPEO:  So of course my mission as a Secretary of State, the thing I rose my – raised my right hand to do, I swore to support and defend the Constitution of the United States.  And I’ve done that now a handful of times – first as a soldier, then as a member of Congress, then as the director of the CIA, now as Secretary of State.  But in each of those missions, the task that I have is informed by my understanding of my faith, my belief in Jesus Christ as the savior.  It doesn’t drive answers and outcomes every day; we all as Christians are searching.  But it does inform how I try to treat every human being with dignity and respect in ways that Christians ought to.  I don’t always live up to that standard, but it does inform the way I think about the world.  I think that makes a real difference, and so I want people to know.  It’s why I talk about it from to time.  I want folks to know the perspective that I am bringing to the challenges in the job that I face, and it also requires me to try to hold myself to the standards that Christians hold themselves out for.

QUESTION:  And you also mentioned a Bible story last night when you had your statements with the prime minister.  Today’s being Purim, a celebration.  Jews worldwide and here in Jerusalem are talking about the fact that Esther 2,500 years ago saved the Jewish people with God’s help from Haman.  And now 2,500 years later there’s a new Haman here in the Middle East that wants to eradicate the Jewish people like just like Haman did: the state of Iran.  Could it be that President Trump right now has been sort of raised for such a time as this, just like Queen Esther, to help save the Jewish people from the Iranian menace?

SECRETARY POMPEO:  As a Christian I certainly believe that’s possible.  It was remarkable – so we were down in the tunnels where we could see 3,000 years ago, and 2,000 years ago – if I have the history just right – to see the remarkable history of the faith in this place and the work that our administration’s done to make sure that this democracy in the Middle East, that this Jewish state remains.  I am confident that the Lord is at work here.

Secretary Pompeo and Susan Pompeo Travels to Kansas, then to Kuwait, Next to Israel and Lebanon

 

Secretary Pompeo and his wife, Susan traveled to Kansas where he did the Keynote Address and Fireside Chat at the Road to GES Heartland Event. They’re now traveling to Kuwait, Israel, and Lebanon from March 19–23.

 

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Pompeo participate in a television interview with Lily Wu from KAKE TV in Wichita, Kansas on March 19, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

U.S. Secretary of State Michael R. Pompeo and Mrs. Susan Pompeo are greeted by U.S. Ambassador to Kuwait Lawrence Silverman, Kuwaiti Ambassador to the U. S. Ambassador Salem Abdullah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, and Kuwaiti Assistant Foreign Minister for the America’s, Ambassador Reem Al-Khalid, upon arrival in Kuwait on March 19, 2019. [State Department photo by Ron Przysucha/ Public Domain]

 

USAID Prepares to Shrink #WestBank/Gaza Presence, Pompeo Visits @USAID HQ

 

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@StateDept Prepares For Interim $20M+ US Embassy Jerusalem Arnona Project

Posted: 12:57 am ET

 

There was a curious story over the weekend about the new U.S. Embassy Jerusalem where POTUS claimed  to have saved millions and millions of dollars for the construction of the new embassy:

Trump has told this story before. In early March, during a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Trump made the same claim about being presented with a $1 billion bill that he rejected. At that point, Trump said the actual cost would be $250,000, not $400,000.

Second, Trump’s depiction of what’s happening appears to glamorize the reality. To speed the process of transitioning from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, the United States will be upgrading an existing facility in Jerusalem. The New York Times reported in February that the first phase — the phase that would be complete in the three-month window mentioned by Trump on Friday — would be to “carve out some office space for Ambassador David M. Friedman and a small staff.” Then, by the end of 2019, the existing compound will be expanded to increase the available office space.

Unless his staffers just gave POTUS a piece of paper purporting to be a bill for a $1 billion U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem, the description above is not how embassies are funded and constructed in the real world. First, the State Department’s Bureau of Buildings Operations is tasked with overseeing the construction of the agency’s overseas building program:

The Bureau of Overseas Buildings Operations (OBO) directs the worldwide overseas building program for the Department of State and the U.S. Government community serving abroad under the authority of the chiefs of mission. In concert with other State Department bureaus, foreign affairs agencies, and Congress, OBO sets worldwide priorities for the design, construction, acquisition, maintenance, use, and sale of real properties and the use of sales proceeds.

Second, the design and construction of these projects are announced for open competition.  It is a multi-phase process and typically spans multiple years depending on scope and size of the project.

Third, granted that this is a White House priority, Congress is still tasked with appropriating funds for the construction of this embassy.  We have not seen the amount for NEC Jerusalem project although the State Department’s budget justification did say:

The construction of a U.S. Embassy facility in Jerusalem will be among the Department’s highest priority for capital security investments in FY 2018 and FY 2019.

State/OBO has 15 overseas construction contracts in FY2017 at a total cost of about $3B; none includes the Jerusalem project. However, there was an A/E design award for a USCG Jerusalem project for $2,899,963 awarded in FY2016 to Krueck+Sexton Architects Chicago with project description listed as “BFM, proj. dvlp. services.”

Krueck+Sexton Architects also have this image up of US Consulate General Jerusalem. And one of its staffers in an online interview said that his “main focus has been on a master plan for a new U.S. Consulate in Jerusalem, Israel, which includes a 200,000 sqft. office building and the development of several other government buildings on a 16-acre site.”

Of particular note — on April 16, USCG Jerusalem announced a “Meet and Greet” for contractors interested in “Phase 2 Arnona Project.” The project provides improvements to the Arnona property where the consulate general is located. A source familiar with the project confirmed to us that this is the interim build-out of the Arnona consular annex, and is intended to accommodate a small ambassador staff and the MSG Detachment. Below is an excerpt from USCG Jerusalem’s announcement (PDF):

There is an upcoming Building Construction project at the U.S. Consulate General Arnona Jerusalem. The project will be competitively let (bid) by U.S. general contractors, followed by project award to a single, winning U.S. contractor in June 2018. The U.S. contractor may subcontract renovation work to local, Israeli construction companies. The project award to a U.S. contractor is expected to exceed $20 million. The Design-Build project scope includes Building Addition, Compound Upgrades, and Improvements to Utilities and Parking.

If the interim US Embassy in Jerusalem is expected to cost at least $20M, who can really expect the permanent embassy to cost between $150K-$400K? It’s not like they’re just building a guard shack.

For context, just the replacement and repair of Forced Entry & Ballistic Resistant (FE/BR) products (doors/windows) for US Embassy Dhaka cost $1.1M back in 2011; an HVAC Upgrade in Bratislava cost $480,000.00 in 2011; and a temporary embassy “fit-out and installation” in Tripoli, Libya the same year cost $998,000.00. Also, the design/build of the consular waiting area alone in Port of Spain was $856,000. Heck, a Surabaya warehouse cost the USG $3,922,458. 00. More items here. So if somebody tells you he can build an embassy for $400K, best run away unless the work scope is for a tiny house embassy for one with no guards.

The interim Jerusalem embassy facility is not to be confused with the New Embassy Compound Jerusalem, which is a separate project, and is “yet to be defined” according to our source. The expectation is for the embassy design award to come out next year. Which means the construction of the new permanent embassy may not start until late 2019 or early 2020, with the actual completion of the NEC project 2-3 years later barring a calamity.

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USUN Ambassador Nikki Haley Says United States Taking Names. Again. #UNGA #Thursday

Posted: 3:40 am ET

 

Back in January, Ambassador Nikki Haley made her first appearance before the press as USUN ambassador prior to presenting her credentials. She made a huge splash with her opening salvo:  “For those who don’t have our back, we’re taking names – we will make points to respond to that accordingly.” (see @USUN Ambassador Nikki Haley: Taking Names and Diplomatic Dustup).

Now, she’s taking names again of those who will criticize the impending US embassy move.  The UN General Assembly is set to meet on Thursday for an emergency discussion on the U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Haaretz is reporting that in an attempt to avoid embarrassment, “Israel has instructed its diplomatic missions to seek meetings with high-level officials to persuade them to direct their representatives at the UN to oppose, not to support, or at the very least not to deliver a speech at the General Assembly.”

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