People gather for a vigil in response to the death of a counter-demonstrator at the "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, outside the White House in Washington, U.S. August 13, 2017. .
(photo credit: JONATHAN ERNST / REUTERS)
(JTA) — The State Department will hire a special envoy for the Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism, but will do away with or combine dozens of other diplomatic positions.
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson made the announcement in a letter sent Monday to Senator Bob Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
The special envoy post, which was mandated in the Global Antisemitism Review Act of 2004, has remained unfilled since Trump’s inauguration in late January, as have many other such posts. The special antisemitism envoy monitors acts of antisemitism abroad, documents the cases in State Department reports, and consults with domestic and international nongovernmental organizations.
The Office to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism has been unstaffed since July 1.
Congressmen, Jewish groups and Jewish leaders have been urging Tillerson to keep the office open and name an envoy.
According to the Tillerson letter, the office will be returned to the Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, with two positions and $130,000 in funding.
“I believe that the Department will be able to better execute its mission by integrating certain envoys and special representative offices within the regional and functional bureaus, and eliminating those that have accomplished or outlived their original purpose. In some cases, the State Department would leave in place several positions and offices, while in other cases, positions and offices would be either consolidated or integrated with the most appropriate bureau. If an issue no longer requires a special envoy or representative, then an appropriate bureau will manage any legacy responsibilities,” Tillerson wrote in the letter.
Other envoys that will be retained include the Special Envoy for Israeli-Palestinian Negotiations; Israel and the Palestinian Authority, US Security Coordinator; Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Defeat ISIS; the Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom; and the Special Envoy for Holocaust Issues.
Of 66 current special envoys or representatives, 30 will remain. Nine positions will be eliminated; 21 will be integrated into other offices, five merged with other positions, and one transferred to the US Agency for International Development.
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