Israel sorry to see 'great friend' Bolton quit UN

Diplomatic sources: Bolton a "highly professional diplomat who worked diligently to promote same ideas Israel and US share in common.

Bolton flags 298.88 (photo credit: AP)
Bolton flags 298.88
(photo credit: AP)
Unable to win Senate confirmation, UN Ambassador John Bolton will step down when his recess appointment expires soon, the White House said Monday. While Israel had no formal reaction to Bolton's decision to resign Monday, diplomatic officials explaining that even though Bolton was a staunch friend and supporter of Israel, Jerusalem did not want to wade into domestic US politics. Nevertheless, off the record there was a great deal of appreciation in Jerusalem for Bolton's work at the UN. Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem praised him as a "great friend of Israel," and as a "highly professional diplomat who worked diligently to promote the same ideas that Israel and the US share in common - democracy and freedom." The officials said that Bolton "worked diligently in a hostile environment," and was "not afraid to speak out in a loud and clear voice, never afraid to voice his opinion, even if it was not popular." The officials noted Bolton's role in defense of Israel at the UN, in the passing of United Nations Security Council resolution 1701, as well as trying to get the UN to take firm action on the Iranian nuclear issue. "He is a diplomat who represents a school of thought that is value-based," the officials said. One official said that at the end of the day Bolton, like all diplomats, implemented his government's policy, "sometimes the delivery of that policy is no less important than the policy itself, and his delivery was very straightforward and powerful." The officials said that they did not envision that Bolton's departure would mark a change in the US's support for Israel at the UN, and that "traditionally the US mission to the UN has been our very close ally. We have always worked very closely with the top US envoy, and there is no reason to think this will change now." In contrast, Russia's Foreign Ministry said its hopes the next US ambassador will usher in changes that include more cooperation with Russia, and will avoid what it called outgoing Bolton's "excessively tough approach," RIA-Novosti reported Monday. "We would like to express the hope that his successor will be able to overcome an excessively tough approach and preserve and develop the positive experience of our cooperation," the ministry was quoted as saying by RIA-Novosti. A ministry spokesman refused to comment on the report. Critics have questioned Bolton's brusque style and whether he could be an effective public servant who could help bring reform to the United Nations. Bolton's nomination has languished in a top US Senate committee for more than a year, blocked by Democrats and several Republicans. Bush gave Bolton the job temporarily in August 2005, while Congress was in recess. Under that process, the appointment expires when Congress formally adjourns, no later than early January. Although Bush could not give Bolton another recess appointment, the White House was believed to be exploring other ways of keeping him in the job, perhaps by giving him a title other than ambassador. But Bolton informed the White House he intended to leave when his current appointment expires, White House deputy press secretary Dana Perino said. Bush planned to meet with Bolton and his wife later Monday at the White House. As late as last month, Bush, through his top aides, said he would not relent in his defense of Bolton, despite unwavering opposition from Democrats who view Bolton as too combative for international diplomacy. The White House resubmitted Bolton's nomination last month. But with Democrats capturing control of the next Congress, his chances of winning confirmation appeared slight. The incoming chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Democratic Sen. Joe Biden, said he saw "no point in considering Mr. Bolton's nomination again."