Trump to pick David Schenker, former Rumsfeld adviser and director of pro-Israel think tank to serve as top US diplomat to the Middle East.
President Donald Trump is expected to tap an adviser to former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld for a key State Department position, a senior Trump White House official told BuzzFeed News Thursday night.
According to the report, President Trump is poised to announce the selection of David Schenker to serve as the State Department’s Assistant Secretary of State for Near Eastern Affairs.
The move would make Schenker America’s top diplomat to the Middle East. If chosen, Schenker would be the first non-career diplomat to fill the position in some two decades.
"Don’t expect an announcement today or tomorrow, but he is expected to be the nominee,” the unnamed Trump White House official said.
Schenker is currently a senior member of The Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP), a pro-Israel think tank formed by former American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) members in the 1980s.
Schenker previously served as an adviser to then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. An Aufzien Fellow at WINEP, Schenker’s field of expertise covers Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and the Palestinian Authority. During his time in the Bush administration, Schenker served as the Pentagon’s top policy aide on Lebanon, Jordan, and Syria.
If chosen, Schenker would replace Anne Patterson, a career State Department employee who once defended the Palestinian Authority policy of providing stipends to jailed terrorists and the families of terrorists killed during attacks on Israelis.
According to a 2014 report by the Palestinian Media Watch organization, Patterson testified before Congress that the policy was legitimate because “they have to provide for the families” of jailed or slain terrorists.
Patterson argued that the US should leave funding for the PA unchanged despite the policy, saying the US should let the PA "phase that out" on its own, while maintaining full US funding of the PA.
"When they pay the families of people that are in prison, and they pay stipends, I would say that is a political prison. And I frankly know that they're going to try and phase that out and we should give them an opportunity to do so.
"I would be hard pressed to say which of the programs for the Palestinian Authority we should cut.
"It is a political issue for the Palestinians, that these people are in jail, they have to provide for the families."