New U.S. envoy to Israel takes charge

jerusalem (jps) | New U.S. Ambassador to Israel Richard H. Jones presented his credentials to Israeli President Moshe Katsav this week.

Jones said that his arrival coincides with a time of extraordinary change in the region. “We applaud Israel for the courage it has demonstrated through Gaza disengagement and encourage Israel and the Palestinian Authority to seize the opportunity to advance prospects for a just and lasting peace through implementation of the agreed road map,” said Jones, who went on to reiterate that the Bush administration’s commitment to the vision of two states, Israel and Palestine, living side by side in peace and security is steadfast.

He said he felt privileged to have been entrusted with the responsibility to help the parties advance to a shared goal of peace and stability in the region, and assured Katsav and representatives of the media that he would spare no effort in this regard.

“Israel is a staunch ally and reliable friend in the global war on terror,” he noted.

Jones, 55, had been serving since February as the secretary of state’s senior adviser and coordinator for Iraq policy. As the highest-ranking State Department official focused entirely on Iraq policy, he led U.S. diplomatic efforts regarding Iraq with the international community.

Like his predecessor in Israel, Dan Kurtzer, Jones has a background in academia. He served as a senior fellow at the Belfer Center of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government.

Jones has master’s and doctoral degrees in business/statistics from the University of Wisconsin and a bachelor’s with distinction in mathematics from Harvey Mudd College in Claremont. In addition to his native English, he speaks Arabic, French, German and Russian and hopes to add Hebrew to that list. Jones and his wife have four children.