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Published: Thursday, 4/21/2005

An inspired appointment

GIVE the Bush Administration credit for the truly inspired appointment of retiring World Bank president James D. Wolfensohn as special coordinator in support of the Palestinian Authority in Gaza and parts of the West Bank as the Israelis withdraw.

Mr. Wolfensohn has impressive credentials for the job. The Palestinians will need money. The former international investment banker has his 10 years at the World Bank as background for raising international cash for worthy development projects.

His theme at the bank was poverty reduction, the Palestinians primary need. Before coming to the World Bank Mr. Wolfensohn was chairman of the board of Carnegie Hall in New York and the Kennedy Center in Washington, where he also displayed ample talent at rounding up money.

In addition, as head of the World Bank, an organization that employs some 10,000 staff members, Mr. Wolfensohn showed considerable skill as the manager of a large organization with heavy responsibilities an apt description of a Palestinian Authority newly in charge of Gaza and part of the West Bank.

He will be able to serve as a very useful adviser to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and his administration as it takes up full responsibility for governing in difficult circumstances.

Finally, on the basis of his religious background, Mr. Wolfensohn should have special credibility with Israeli authorities, who will be gone but not forgotten, and still very prominent on the horizons of Gaza as the first installment of a Palestinian state.

It is obvious at the moment that in general the Bush Administration is getting mixed reviews on some of its nominations, notably John Bolton for U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Paul Wolfowitz as head of the World Bank, succeeding Mr. Wolfensohn, and some judges.

However, James Wolfensohn s appointment can only be applauded. The job will be tough, but he will bring real talent and broad, useful experience to it.

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