WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The Senate on Thursday confirmed career diplomat James Cunningham as ambassador to Afghanistan, replacing Ryan Crocker, who stepped down because of ill health.

Cunningham has been serving as deputy ambassador at the U.S. embassy in Kabul since June 2011. Earlier, he was the U.S. ambassador to Israel; he also held senior U.S. posts in Hong Kong, NATO and the United Nations.

He was confirmed on a voice vote.

Crocker said in May that he was leaving the demanding Kabul post for health reasons after a long career in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Syria, Kuwait and Lebanon.

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Jackie Frank)