Both Israel and Syria announced in May they were holding indirect talks aimed in part at an Israeli evacuation of most of the Golan Heights, which looks down on Israeli population centers and twice was used by Damascus to mount ground invasions of the Jewish state.
The talks have been progressing at a very slow pace, with Syrian President Bashar Assad in Russia today discussing military cooperation between Damascus and Moscow.
But Daniel Kurtzer, a top adviser to Obama on Israeli-Palestinian affairs who visited Syria last month, reportedly has offered Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem some advice.
“I urged him to move ahead in the Israel-Syria negotiations as much as possible so that whoever is the next president would not start from too far down the track,” Kurtzer disclosed yesterday in an interview with the New York Sun.
“I did not say anything about Obama or McCain. I said whoever is the next president is not going to want to inherit a process that isn’t going anywhere,” Kurtzer said.
Kurtzer ‘one of Israel’s greatest foes’
Kurtzer long has been identified by Israeli leaders speaking on the record as one of Israel’s greatest foes in Washington, and his appointment as a primary Mideast adviser to Obama raised some eyebrows in the pro-Israel Jewish community. “We oppose the appointment of Kurtzer because of his long, documented record of hostility to and severe pressure upon Israel,” said Zionist Organization of America National Chairman Morton Klein.
Kurtzer has been blasted by mainstream Jewish organizations, including the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations.
He has angered Israeli leaders many times for pushing Israel into what they described as extreme concessions to the Palestinians.
“With Jews like Kurtzer, it is impossible to build a healthy relationship between Israel and the United States,” Benjamin Nentanyahu was quoted saying in 2001 by Israel’s Haaretz newspaper.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Shamir said Kurtzer “frequently pressured Israel to make one-sided concessions to the Arabs; he constantly blamed Israel for the absence of Mideast peace, and paid little or no attention to the fact that the Palestinians were carrying out terrorist attacks and openly calling for the destruction of Israel.”
Morris Amitay, former executive director of the America-Israel Public Affairs Committee, told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency in 2001: “Kurtzer … will use his Jewishness as a protective cover for his anti-Israel views.”
The ZOA points out Israel’s leading daily, Yediot Ahronot, editorialized on Kurtzer’s negative influence against Israel:
“Possibly more than any other U.S. State Department official, Kurtzer has been instrumental in promoting the goals of the Palestinians and in raising their afflictions to the center of the U.S. policymakers’ agenda,” the paper stated.
Kurtzer first rose to prominence in 1988 when, as a State Department adviser, he counseled the Reagan administration to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization led by Yasser Arafat. The PLO had carried out scores of anti-Western attacks, but in the late ’80s Arafat claimed to have renounced violence.
In 1988, Kurtzer was noted as the principal author of a major policy speech by then-Secretary of State George Shultz in which the U.S. government first recognized the “legitimate rights” of the Palestinians.
Haaretz reported in 2001 that Kurtzer had a “vocal conflict” with an Israeli government official in Philadelphia in the summer of 1990 after Kurtzer “attacked the Israeli government for refusing to include the PLO in the peace process [and] said that this constituted the main obstacle to peace.”
Another think to keep in mind is that Kurtzer is the former ambassador to Egypt, as well as Israel. He’s also worked at the Arabist State Department.
Kurtzer served as ambassador to Israel from 2001 to 2005 with the rank of career-minister in the foreign service. He had completed a term as U.S. ambassador to Egypt from 1997 to 2001. He also worked from 1994 to 1997 in the Department of State as principal deputy assistant secretary and acting assistant secretary for intelligence research, and as deputy assistant secretary for Near Eastern affairs from 1989 to 1994.
Now I read someplace a while back that ambassadors to Muslim countries are routinely bribed. If I find the link, I’ll definitely post it. So in the case of Kurtzer, I’m not the least bit surprised at how hostile to Israel this worm is.
Anyway, the McCain camp has picked up on Kurtzer’s visit to Syria and they’ll be using former Mayor Rudolph Giuliani as their attack person.