Biden's point man on Israel-Palestine isn't aiming for a Nobel Prize

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fairly difficult
Hady Amr has much more modest ambitions than Jared Kushner.
The man holding the Israel-Palestine file at the State Department, Hady Amr, isn't working on a sweeping plan for peace, but on incremental steps to improve the situation on the ground, several Israeli, Palestinian and U.S sources tell me.

Why it matters: American presidents have for decades arrived in office hoping to reach a historic peace deal. President Biden doesn't see that as achievable under the current circumstances.

With Israel-Palestine far down the priority list at the White House, the issue will be handled mainly by the State Department, where Amr serves as deputy assistant secretary for Israeli-Palestinian affairs (unlike Barack Obama, Biden declined to appoint a special envoy for Middle East peace).

Secretary of State Tony Blinken has made clear that he doesn't expect a Nobel Peace Prize. Instead, Amr has been tasked with building trust from the bottom up.

Based on my conversations with a dozen current and former Israeli, Palestinian and U.S. officials, Amr appears to be the embodiment of this more pragmatic approach.

Amr was the "bottom-up" guy during his four years of dealing with the Israeli-Palestinian issue during the Obama administration.

He worked closely with the Israelis to advance projects like 3G networks for Gaza or sewage systems in the West Bank.

During the 2014 Gaza War, Amr worked around the clock to redistribute all U.S. assistance to the Palestinians into humanitarian aid for Gaza.

It fell to Amr to implement policies agreed to at the top level — often between Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and then-Secretary of State John Kerry — in a very difficult political environment.

The backstory: Amr was born in Beirut in 1967 and grew up mostly in New Jersey and Virginia.

An economist and foreign policy expert, he joined the Department of Defense during the Clinton administration, spent time in the private sector and then joined the Brookings Institution in 2006, founding its Doha Center.

Amr returned to government…
Barak Ravid
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