WASHINGTON – A new appointment for the Middle East? US President-elect Barack Obama is considering appointing former Secretary of State Colin Powell as the special peace envoy to the Middle East.
Sources in Washington told Ynet on Saturday that Powell's appointment as special envoy is "a serious option".
Powell – a Republican statesman who served as national security advisor under the President Ronald Reagan, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President George H.W. Bush and secretary of state in the George W. Bush administration – endorsed Democratic candidate Obama in the recent US presidential elections.
During his tenure as secretary of state, Powell tried to advance moves between Israel and the Palestinian and appointed General Anthony Zinni as his special envoy, but President Bush's failure to back his moves harmed his missions to the Middle East.
In November 2001, Powell was to deliver an important foreign policy speech on the Middle East in Louisville, Kentucky, in a bid to provide a response to Arab states' complaints on the lack of a political horizon, but the firm speech was moderated by President Bush and Vice President Richard Cheney.
Judging from Obama's previous appointments of high-ranking officials as members of his administration, there is no doubt the president-elect is interested in adding a person like Powell. However it is still unclear whether 71-year-old Powell will be interested in the job and whether newly-appointed secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, will accept the appointment of a special envoy reporting directly to Obama, a move which may harm her involvement in the process.
Two additional names mentioned as candidates for the envoy position are Dennis Ross, who served as special Middle East coordinator under President Bill Clinton, and former US Ambassador to Egypt and Israel Danial Kurtzer. Both are Jews who served at the State Department during the Clinton administration and are highly proficient in the Israeli-Arab conflict.
Ross did not take sides in the Democratic Party primary elections, offering his counseling services both to Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama. Kurtzer quickly joined the Obama camp.