New U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia a Pro-palestinian

Robert Neumann, who presented his credentials in Riyadh last week as the new United States Ambassador to Saudi Arabia is considered here a supporter of the Palestinians.

Neumann, a political scientist who is vice-chairman of Georgetown University’s Center for Strategic and International Studies, has long called for the U.S. to open a dialogue with the Palestine Liberation Organization. In an interview with the Washington Star, published Monday, Neumann said “Palestine is the core problem” in resolving the Arab-Israeli problem.

The 65-year-old Neumann was born in Vienna and was put in a Nazi concentration camp in 1938 because, as he told the Star, he opposed Hitler. “A great majority opposing the Nazis in my time were not Jewish,” he told the Star. Joy Billington, who interviewed Neumann, noted that Neumann added “that there would be nothing wrong with it if he were assumed Jewish, but still making the point that he isn’t.”

But Neumann has been quoted elsewhere as admitting that he was born of Jewish parents although he converted to Catholicism at the age of 17. Neumann was Ambassador to Afghanistan under President Johnson and to Morocco under President Nixon. He headed the transition team at the State Department after Reagan was elected President last year.

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