Quartet envoy Wolfensohn leaves post

By HILARY LEILA KRIEGER
April 30, 2006 03:35

Quartet Middle East envoy James Wolfensohn will not renew his term of office once it expires Sunday, his office announced this weekend. A diplomatic source said his departure stemmed from the lack of a role Wolfensohn could play now that the Palestinian Authority is dominated by Hamas. With both the US and EU labeling the group a terrorist organization, Wolfensohn couldn't have contacts with anyone other than Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas. He also couldn't fund-raise or otherwise substantively contribute to development in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, while most such projects remain moribund. Wolfensohn served as the special representative on behalf the US, EU, UN and Russia during a period which included Israel's disengagement from Gaza, the election of Hamas to the Palestinian Legislative Council, and the departure of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon from the political scene. During his tenure, he helped broker agreements on turning Gaza greenhouses over to the Palestinians following the Israeli withdrawal and subsequent arrangements for operating the border crossings and flow of goods and people between Israel and Gaza. Several aspects of the agreements, however, have aroused controversy and some have not been implemented. Wolfensohn had already twice briefly extended his term past its original deadline in December.


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