Trump’s Israel Ambassador Praises Nauert as Tough Senate Hearing Looms

(Bloomberg) -- Donald Trump’s decision to nominate State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert as his UN envoy prompted questions from some lawmakers and foreign policy experts about her qualifications for the job -- doubts the president’s ambassador to Israel sought to quell.

"She’ll be a very good UN ambassador,” Ambassador David Friedman said in a phone interview. “It’s very important to me personally and professionally that Israel has someone defending it at the UN. My perspective is limited to my little corner of the world, but I think she’s been terrific. ”

Nauert, a Fox News reporter before she joined the State Department, will face pointed questions about her qualifications to succeed former two-term South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, even after the administration signaled it will downgrade the post from Cabinet rank. She received a strong recommendation from Secretary of State Michael Pompeo, whom she would continue to report to, but one key Republican senator voiced doubts echoed by many foreign policy analysts.

“Does she have detailed knowledge of foreign policy to a level that will allow her to be successful at the United Nations?” Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, a member of the Foreign Relations Committee that will take up Nauert’s nomination, asked Sunday on CBS’s “Face the Nation.” “I don’t know.”

Assuming she wins confirmation, Nauert would be called on to rally support at the UN for the administration’s yet-to-be-unveiled Middle East peace plan. The proposal, which Trump has promised since taking office, has been repeatedly delayed, most recently by a corruption scandal surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and international condemnation over Saudi Arabia’s killing of columnist Jamal Khashoggi.

At this point, details of the plan have been largely settled but the Trump administration continues to wait for the right timing to release the proposal.

Friedman said that when it comes to Israel, he believes Nauert would continue Haley’s efforts to focus much of her agenda on defending the Jewish state. Haley said she sought to counter what she called the UN’s “anti-Israel bias.”

Nauert, 48, also would have to seek continued international support for sanctions put on North Korea in 2017 over its missile and nuclear weapons programs, respond to growing pressure to address the humanitarian crises in Yemen and Venezuela and shape the international response to the continuing Syrian civil war.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.