Co-author of Palestinian statehood plan set to take key role on Middle East


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The White House reportedly is set to name Steve Simon, the co-author of a comprehensive outline for a Palestinian state, as a top Middle East official.

The Obama administration will tap Simon, a former top National Security Council official in the Clinton administration, to head the NSC’s Middle East desk, according to Laura Rozen of The Envoy foreign policy blog on Simon would succeed Daniel Shapiro, who by default has become the top administration point man for pro-Israel groups and Israeli officials.

Simon, currently a Middle Eastern studies fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, co-wrote "Building a Palestinian State" in 2005 when he was a senior analyst at the Rand Corp., a policy institute close to the U.S. defense establishment.

The paper at the time was the most comprehensive outline  for Palestinian statehood and foresaw substantive Israeli concessions in the West Bank, although it also preserved some major settlements, including Ma’aleh Adumim.

Simon’s appointment comes as the Palestinian Authority is pushing forward with plans to obtain international recognition of a state.

It is unclear who would assume Shapiro’s capacity as point man. The most influential Middle East policy official remains Dennis Ross, who is seen as a hard-liner on Iran and on preserving the relationship with Israel.

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