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Biden reportedly close to picking Israel critic for press secretary

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Last week, President-elect Joe Biden was reported to have a vocal critic of Israel as a top pick to be his press secretary, according to NBC News White House Correspondent Geoff Bennett.

On November 18, Bennett tweeted in a thread that multiple sources had told him and two of his NBC News colleagues that Karine Jean-Pierre, a longtime campaign adviser and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’s chief of staff, had emerged as a “top candidate” for the job. No final decision has been made yet about who will be appointed to the position. Additionally, with the report being a week old, it is not known if Jean-Pierre is still on Biden’s shortlist for the role.

Jean-Pierre was also was senior adviser and national spokesperson for MoveOn.org, a progressive activist group with anti-Israel views, and is a vocal critic of Israel herself.

The Biden Campaign didn’t respond to this reporter’s request for comment.

In an opinion piece she wrote for Newsweek in March 2019, Jean-Pierre praised Democratic politicians for not going to that year’s AIPAC conference, saying, “boldly choosing to prioritize diplomacy and human rights over the power of a lobbying organization.”

In the same piece, she made other controversial accusations and statements about Israel and AIPAC, including accusing of Benjamin Netanyahu’s government of committing war crimes, citing a United Nations commission report around the time of the article saying that Israeli soldiers likely committed war crimes against Gazan protesters.

Pro-Israel groups in Washington, DC have enjoyed a boon of policy success under President Trump’s administration, who has succeeded in getting many historic enemies of Israel such as the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, and Sudan to join Egypt and Jordan in recognizing and establishing normal diplomatic ties with the Jewish State.

During the campaign, Biden said that he would bring back the daily White House press briefings that Trump got rid of during his tenure in the Oval Office.

If appointed, Jean-Pierre would be the first Black woman to serve in the role, as well as another person who is a reported top contender, Symone Sanders.

This reporter reached out to the Biden transition team for immediate comment on if Jean-Pierre is still on the president-elect’s shortlist but received no response.

You can follow Douglas Braff on Twitter @Douglas_P_Braff.

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CIA director meets with Israeli PM to arouse regional support following drone attack

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By Jenny Goldsberry

Central Intelligence Agency Director William Burns visited Israel Wednesday in an effort to rally regional support amidst attacks from Iran. Burns discussed possibilities for regional cooperation with Israel Prime Minister Naftali Bennett.

Late July, drones struck an Israeli tanker off the coast of Oman. As a result, two crew members died. Since then, the United States blamed Tehran for the attack. Iranian officials deny their involvement.

At the time, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said the White House was noticing a disturbing pattern. “We feel it follows a pattern of attacks and other belligerent behavior,” Psaki said. “And these actions also threaten freedom of navigation through crucial waterways — something that is posing a risk to a range of countries around the world.”
 
Therefore, the press secretary suggested that countries get involved. “You know, I would also note that we know our British partners have called for action, called for steps in a coordinated way from international bodies, including the United Nations, which we would certainly support,” Psaki said. Now, Burns’ visit symbolizes the United State following through on the White House’s comments.

According to a statement from Burns’ office, he met with Bennett after meeting with the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligency agency David Barnea. Burns met the Israeli leader in Tel-Aviv. “They discussed the situation in the Middle East, with emphasis on Iran, and possibilities for expanding and deepening regional cooperation,” the statement read.

Next, Burns will meet with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

You can follow Jenny Goldsberry on Twitter @jennyjournalism.

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