Bush Set to Appoint Kurtzer as Israeli Ambassador

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Bush Set to Appoint Kurtzer as Israeli Ambassador
US President George W. Bush is poised to name Daniel Kurtzer, currently US envoy to Egypt and a veteran of the Middle East peace process, as the next American ambassador to Israel.

An Orthodox Jew, Kurtzer is a career diplomat with leftist views regarding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He has been a key player on the US diplomatic team brokering Arab-Israeli peace negotiations for more than a decade.

Bush is expected to announce the appointment in the coming days or weeks, but Kurtzer would not take up the job until the summer, when US Ambassador to Israel Martin Indyk completes his term. Indyk, who twice filled the job under Clinton, was the first Jew to hold the position.

Kurtzer is personally well acquainted with Israeli and Palestinian officials. He joined the US Foreign Service in 1976, and has specialized in the Middle East in a variety of diplomatic jobs under both Democratic and Republican presidents. Under the elder president George Bush, Kurtzer was considered one of the "Baker Boys," a small group of mainly Jewish diplomats serving on then-secretary of state James Baker's Middle East policy team, which included Dennis Ross and Aaron Miller.

Kutzer was an early proponent of US dialogue with the PLO, even when it was still heavily involved in international terrorism against Israel. Kurtzer is credited as one of the authors of Baker's historic 1989 speech to AIPAC, in which the US urged Israeli leaders to abandon the "unrealistic vision of a Greater Israel" that includes Judea/Samaria and the Gaza Strip.

In an article that appeared on the Internet site WORLDNETDAILY.com last week, American-Arab columnist Joseph Farah noted that Kurtzer was "the key figure in the process of formulating the US decision to recognize the PLO and Yasser Arafat as the legitimate and sole representatives of the Palestinian people." Farah writes that, "During a period of intense terrorism against Israel in 1988, it was Kurtzer, as an official in the State Department, who argued that the US must reach out to the PLO, which he characterized as moving in a 'moderate' direction."

Farah notes that, "In his 1976 Ph.D. dissertation at Columbia University, Kurtzer blamed Israeli responses to terrorist strikes for 'the radicalization of those Palestinians to violence.'" In his thesis, those who carried out massacres of civilians were called "guerrillas," rather than "terrorists," according to the Farah column.

Farah also credits Kurtzer with much responsibility for America's "even-handedness" in Middle East affairs, and for coining the phrase "land for peace."

Used with Permission from International Christian Embassy Jerusalem.

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