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Tuesday, Sep 24, 2019

Wolfensohn steps down as Mideast envoy

James D Wolfensohn said his job was no longer tenable with Hamas' control of the Palestinian government.

india Updated: May 02, 2006 10:44 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

James D Wolfensohn stepped down as the quartet envoy to the Middle East, saying that his job was no longer tenable with Hamas' control of the Palestinian government.

Wolfensohn has been serving as the envoy for the quartet, a group consisting of the US, UN, Russia and the EU, which developed the now-stalled road map peace plan.

Wolfensohn helped oversee the Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip in August and led the international effort to assist the financial development of Gaza.

"It is a very difficult movement to be able to try and negotiate any independent type of arrangements that would affect the future of Gaza and the West Bank because of the emphasis that Hamas puts on the destruction of the state of Israel," Wolfensohn said on Monday at a press conference with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in Washington.

Hamas prevailed in the January 25 parliamentary elections and formally took power in March.

The US and EU later cut off all financial aid to the Palestinian Authority while promising to continue to fund humanitarian needs through third parties.

Wolfensohn said the issues surrounding Palestinian financing were now "above my pay grade".

Wolfensohn, a former president of the World Bank, said it was important that the international community continue to support the humanitarian needs of the Palestinian people.

The quartet has demanded that Hamas, which the US and EU consider a terrorist organisation, renounce violence and recognise Israel's right to exist.

After leaving as president of the World Bank last summer, Wolfensohn agreed to serve as quartet envoy.

He helped negotiate the Israeli transfer of the Rafah crossing point to Palestinian control after the Israel settlements in the Gaza Strip were evacuated.

His mandate as special envoy lasted through April, and Rice said that he could be called upon again if the situation with Hamas changes.

"I really do hope that we can call on Jim again in an active role, because he has done a very fine job and I know would do a very fine job again," Rice said.

First Published: May 02, 2006 10:44 IST