The US president is expected to name a new ambassador to the Jewish state Monday night, marking the first time since the start of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that the country has held a sitting US president.
The move will come as President Donald Trump is preparing to travel to Israel for his first trip abroad since taking office.
Trump has already nominated Mike Pompeo as his new ambassador, who previously served as CIA director under Republican presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama.
But a senior administration official told The Associated Press that Pompeo’s selection has not yet been approved.
Trump, who has praised the Israeli military for its fighting prowess during the last war in Gaza, is expected later this week to announce the appointment of a new US Ambassador to Israel, who will be in charge of the administration’s efforts to revive peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians.
The official said Pompeo, a conservative former Republican congressman, was not an easy choice to fill the post.
The announcement could set the stage for an expected diplomatic spat between the two countries.
In December, Trump tweeted that Israel is “trying to wipe out the very existence of the State of Israel.”
Trump’s administration has previously threatened to label the state of Israel a terrorist organization.
On Sunday, he accused Israel of using “the death of our sons and daughters” to advance its own interests, and called the Gaza conflict a “total disgrace.”
“Israelis will be outraged.
They will be disgusted,” Trump said.
“They will be enraged,” Trump added, calling it “disgusting” to see how the Israeli government has treated the Palestinians who are fighting Israel.
He also questioned why the United States had to provide weapons to Israel during the conflict.
In March, Trump sent a message of support to Israel from the White House, saying that the US will continue to support Israel and “will always stand by Israel’s right to defend itself.”
The president has also expressed admiration for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He said during the campaign that he would visit Israel and meet with Israeli leaders.
Trump’s decision to nominate Pompeo comes amid growing tension between Israel’s security establishment and the Trump administration.
The State Department was recently informed that Pompe, a former CIA officer, had expressed his opposition to the Obama administration’s policy of lifting the U.S. military embargo on Israel.
That policy is being reviewed by Trump, according to the official.
Trump told reporters last month that he was open to lifting the sanctions, but only if Israel’s leaders were willing to take “meaningful” steps toward ending the occupation.
“I will give Israel a chance to decide if it’s going to be a democracy or not,” Trump told Fox News’ Sean Hannity in an interview aired on March 16.
“And I think if Israel is willing to give up its right to exist as a Jewish state, that’s a different issue,” Trump continued.
“If Israel’s willing to let us take a chance, we’ll do it.”