The Cable

In new directive, Obama signs off on development review

President Barack Obama has signed a Presidential Study Directive authorizing a U.S. government-wide review of global development policy, according to sources briefed on the review by the White House. The review, expected to be completed by January, is being formally co-led by National Security Advisor Gen. Jim Jones and chairman of the National Economic Council Larry Summers.

Development hands say the new PSD is important because it signals the intent to reach across government agencies to think through a more coordinated and strategic approach to development policy, to include (beyond the State Department and USAID) the Defense Department, Treasury Department -- which handles U.S. assistance to multilateral assistance organizations, the Overseas Private Investment Corps, agriculture departments, etc. 

The State Department announced in July that it was launching its own major development strategy review, in the form of a Quadrennial Diplomacy and Development Review process, co-led by Policy Planning chief Anne-Marie Slaughter and Deputy Secretary of State Jack Lew, with assistance from acting USAID coordinator Alonzo Fulgham.

The NSC's senior director for development issues, Gayle Smith, who reports to both Jones and Summers, is supposed to take a key role in the development review authorized by the new Obama Presidential Study Directive. Smith has recently been joined at the NSC by Jeremy Weinstein, who came on earlier this month as the NSC's director for democracy. Weinstein, previously at Stanford University (along with the NSC's Senior Director for Russia Michael McFaul and NSC Senior Director for Europe Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall), assisted Smith in coordinating the Obama campaign's expert advisory group on development and democracy issues. The White House didn't immediately respond to a query.

The Cable

Middle East update

The NSC's senior director for the Middle East and North Africa Dan Shapiro, back from accompanying U.S. peace envoy George Mitchell to London for talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, briefed European diplomats in Washington on the status of the talks Thursday, The Cable learned from diplomatic sources. 

The upshot was that more talks are needed, and there is apparently still not a small amount to continue talking about, as the Mitchell and Netanyahu teams try to work out apparently remaining differences over specific exceptions to a total West Bank settlement freeze and in particular the issue of East Jerusalem. Netanyahu has tried to argue in more public venues that Jerusalem should not be considered as part of the settlement issue. Privately, a Middle East hand earlier told The Cable, what Netanyahu may be arguing for with the Americans may have more to do with optics, e.g. whether he can privately agree to refrain from further Jewish construction or Palestinian evictions in East Jerusalem, but not have it be formally announced as part of a public deal.

U.S. officials have declined to discuss specific issues involved in the talks. Shapiro declined to comment.

Separately, a Middle East hand said that the Obama White House told the Mitchell team earlier in August to 'get it done already,' referring to overcoming the obstacles to getting to a new round of peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians.

Netanyahu is due to send advisors Yitzhak Molcho and Mickey Herzog to meet with Mitchell and his team in the U.S. next week, although it's still being worked out whether the meetings will take place in Washington, New York, or Maine, which Mitchell represented as a Senator.