Washington (CNN) - With civil war and unrest unfolding across portions of the Middle East and North Africa, President Barack Obama is seeking to fill an important diplomatic post in the region by nominating Dan Shapiro to be the next U.S. ambassador to Israel.
The nomination of Shapiro, currently senior director for the Middle East and North Africa on the National Security Council, was announced Wednesday by the White House.
Shapiro was a key adviser on the Middle East to Obama's presidential campaign. He also played a big role in Obama's outreach to the U.S. Jewish community during the campaign.
The announcement comes at a point when negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians over the outlines of a future Palestinian state are frozen. The Obama administration has repeatedly criticized the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, a major sticking point in negotiations, but recently vetoed a resolution before the United Nations Security Council that would have labeled settlements as illegal under international law.
Prior to his work on the campaign, Shapiro was a vice president at a Washington-based marketing and communications firm, and held positions on the National Security staff in the Clinton administration, as well as in the offices of Democratic Sens. Dianne Feinstein of California and Bill Nelson of Florida.
If confirmed by the Senate, Shapiro will succeed the current U.S. ambassador, James Cunningham.