Gen. John Allen has been appointed special U.S. envoy on security issues in negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian Authority. He will not mediate between the parties; his work will almost exclusively involve contacts with Israel. Allen will deal with the U.S. position on Israeli security needs and the security arrangements that would accompany the establishment of a future Palestinian state.
Senior U.S. and Israeli officials note that while U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made the appointment it was coordinated with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading the effort to restart Israeli-Palestinian negotiations.
"Allen has agreed to serve as a special adviser to the secretary of defense focusing on security in the context of Middle East peace," said a senior U.S. official who insisted on anonymity, adding, "His work will support Secretary Kerry's comprehensive efforts to find a way forward on Middle East peace."
Allen is a four-star general who rose through the ranks in the Marines and retired from the military at the end of April, after 37 years. His last post was commander of the NATO-led International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.
The White House announced his resignation in February after he was investigated by the Pentagon and cleared of professional misconduct in exchanging emails with a civilian woman linked to the sex scandal that led Gen. David Petraeus to resign as CIA director.
Last week Allen visited Israel, where he met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and senior Israel Defense Forces officers and was briefed on Israel's security demands in any final arrangement with the Palestinians.
Allen will fill a role similar to that of Gen. James Jones, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2007 and developed a security plan for a final Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement.
Netanyahu rejected this plan when he became premier in 2009. He opposed the stationing of international forces in the West Bank and said Israeli troops should be stationed on a long-term basis in the Jordan Valley.