Kamala Harris Says U.S.-Israel Ties 'Will Only Grow Stronger' Under Isaac Herzog

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris has congratulated new Israeli President Isaac Herzog, saying "our relationship will only grow stronger" under his leadership.

Herzog—a former leader of the center-left Labor party—will take over the largely ceremonial role after being elected by lawmakers on Wednesday.

In a tweet on Thursday morning, Harris praised Herzog, who has headed the Jewish Agency responsible for Jewish immigration to Israel, for his work to "champion close ties to the U.S."

"Congratulations to @Isaac_Herzog on his election as Israel's President," the VP wrote.

"President-elect Herzog has long worked to promote dialogue, protect the State of Israel, and champion close ties to the U.S. Our relationship will only grow stronger under his presidency."

She also praised the outgoing president, Reuven Rivlin, "for your leadership, your service to Israel – and to the friendship you have shown the United States."

Congratulations to @Isaac_Herzog on his election as Israel’s President. President-elect Herzog has long worked to promote dialogue, protect the State of Israel, and champion close ties to the U.S. Our relationship will only grow stronger under his presidency.

— Vice President Kamala Harris (@VP) June 3, 2021

Herzog is the son of Northern Irish-born Chaim Herzog, who served as president from 1983 to 1993. His uncle, Abba Eban, was formerly an ambassador to the United Nations and the U.S.

In his first speech after his election, Herzog said he intended "to build bridges" across Israeli society and the Jewish diaspora and "safeguard the foundations of our democracy."

Harris' comments come at a testing time for diplomatic relations between the two countries, with a strained ceasefire currently holding between Israel and pro-Palestine group Hamas, which controls Gaza.

Calls for that ceasefire, which came from world leaders including U.S. President Joe Biden, had initially been ignored by the Israeli government, with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initially vowing to press on with his campaign.

In Biden's calls with the Israeli leader last month, Biden "reiterated his firm support for Israel's right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks."

But he also "expressed his support for a ceasefire and discussed U.S. engagement with Egypt and other partners towards that end," according to a White House readout of their conversation.

With the ceasefire now in place, Netanyahu's 12-year tenure is set to end after opposition parties reached an agreement to form a new government.

Under a rotation arrangement, Naftali Bennett, the head of the right-wing Yamina party, would serve as the next prime minister before handing over to Yair Lapid, the leader of the centrist Yesh Atid party.

The political moves come in a period of readjustment for U.S. diplomacy in the region after President Biden, who supports a two-state solution in the decades-old conflict in the region, replacing Donald Trump in the White House.

In January this year, President Biden's administration announced it was restoring relations with the Palestinians and renewing aid to Palestinian refugees.

That represented a reversal of the Trump administration's decision to cut off ties.

Kamala Harris at the White House
File photo: Kamal Harris in the East Room of the White House on May 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Biden announced that the U.S. will send 20 million doses of Pfizer, Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccines abroad. VP Harris has welcomed the new Israeli president to his role. Getty Images/Anna Moneymaker