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Oren praises Power as caring deeply about Israel

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WASHINGTON (JTA) — Samantha Power, President Obama’s nominee for United Nations envoy, cares deeply about Israel’s security needs, the Israeli ambassador to Washington said.

“Samantha Power and I have worked closely over the last four years on issues vital to Israel’s security,” Michael Oren told The New York Times on Friday. “She thoroughly understands those issues and cares deeply about them.”

Oren noted that envoys typically do not comment on nominees until they are confirmed, but he made an exception in the case of Power because of reports that Israel would be unsettled by her selection.

Some pro-Israel groups have embraced Power, who would replace Susan Rice, the nominee for national security adviser, citing her record exposing genocide. Also, while Power was in the White House in Obama’s first term, she and Rice led efforts to tamp down anti-Israel actions at the United Nations.

Others have expressed wariness because of a number of remarks in 2002 and 2003 in which Power posited a scenario of the United States cutting assistance to Israel and backing an intercession force should Israel threaten the Palestinians with massive human rights violations. She has since apologized for the remarks.

A spokesman for the Israeli Embassy confirmed the remarks were made as reported but would not repeat them or make Oren available to speak to JTA.

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