Following the selection of Rex Tillerson to be the next US secretary of state, one could, perhaps surprisingly, hear tones of disappointment in Jerusalem and Ramallah. Tillerson's nomination was vintage Donald Trump. After publishing a long list of likely Republican nominees that surprised nobody, he opted for a petrol industry billionaire with no background whatsoever in foreign affairs aside from making deals for ExxonMobil. In short, Trump chose a climate change cynic by definition and a business deal-maker. On top of this, Tillerson’s main claim to international fame is that he is among Russian President Vladimir Putin’s friends. If Putin did indeed interfere in the US elections, he got his reward.
Official Israel had hoped for a traditional, right-wing Republican friend of Israel’s current government and prime minister, like former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani. A senior Israeli Foreign Ministry official in charge of US relations told Al-Monitor that publicly the ministry welcomes Tillerson's appointment. Israel trusts President-elect Trump and his administration to have a pro-Israel policy. On the other hand, the official said, Tillerson is practically an unknown. Figures in the government’s most senior circles are somewhat nervous about the designated secretary of state's background.