Shorts: U.S.

Obama reaches out to Livni

Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) called Israel’s foreign minister to express support for Israel in the wake of the recent increase in violence.

The Democratic presidential front-runner initiated the call March 11 to Tzipi Livni during her visit to Washington.

Obama addressed last week’s terrorist attack on a Jerusalem yeshiva, the intensification of rocket fire from the Gaza Strip, peace talks with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the threat of a nuclear Iran.

Israel Embassy officials said they were trying to reach the presidential campaigns of Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) and Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for similar conversations. — jta

Bush selects new ambassador

President Bush nominated a career diplomat with no direct Middle East experience as ambassador to Israel.

If confirmed, veteran diplomat James Cunningham will replace Richard Jones as the envoy in Tel Aviv when his term ends this summer, the administration announced last week.

Cunningham, currently the U.S. consul general in Hong Kong, was acting ambassador to the United Nations in 2001 while Bush’s choice for the post, John Negroponte, was facing a tough Senate confirmation because of his involvement in the Iran-Contra scandal of the 1980s. That afforded Cunningham a critical role in rolling back condemnation of Israel during the second intifada. — jta