US Ambassador Richard Jones will be replaced in the summer by James Cunningham, currently Washington's consul-general in Hong Kong, it was disclosed Wednesday. The replacement of Jones so close to the end of the Bush administration's term has raised eyebrows. Traditionally the entire US ambassadorial corps tenders letters of resignation when a new administration takes office to give the new president the opportunity to appoint the diplomats he wants and that would have been a natural time for a new ambassador to be dispatched to Israel. Earlier in the year, there were rumors that Jones, a Russian-speaker who formerly served as ambassador to Kazakhstan, would be sent to Moscow to serve as the US ambassador there. That eventuality, however, has not materialized. Jones arrived in Israel in September 2005, replacing Dan Kurtzer, who served here for just over four years. Cunningham, who has served in Hong Kong since August 2005, is known to Israel primarily from his days as deputy US ambassador to the UN from 2001-2005. During that period, one Foreign Ministry official said, Cunningham "worked with full cooperation and friendship with the Israeli delegation at the UN, as is customary among diplomats from Israel and the US." According to the State Department Web site, Cunningham has spent much of his career working on European and security affairs, with broad experience in multilateral diplomacy. He served as chief of staff to the NATO secretary-general in the 1990s, and was also stationed in Stockholm, Washington and Rome.