WASHINGTON - The Trump administration has chosen Kris Bauman, an Air Force colonel and expert on the peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, to replace Yael Lempert as the National Security Council's point man for the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
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Bauman was involved in the last round of peace negotiations, which took place under former U.S. President Barack Obama from 2013 to 2014, and has been researching the subject for years, most recently at the National Defense University in Washington. Bauman's presence at the NSC could indicate that the administration will soon turn its attention to security related questions as part of Trump's attempt to reach an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal. Bauman now works under the Defense Department and his formal move to the White House is being finalized these days.
During the 2013 to 2014 peace talks, Bauman was the chief-of-staff for General John Allen, who was appointed by the Obama administration to devise a comprehensive security plan for the day after a peace agreement is signed. Allen led a team of dozens of security and intelligence experts and built a plan that won praise from some senior officials in the Israeli security establishment, but was eventually rejected by former Defense Miniser Moshe Yaalon, who ridiculed it in briefings to the press and said it was not worth the paper its written on.
As Haaretz reported two weeks ago, Lempert, who held the Israeli-Palestinian file in Obama's National Security Council, will leave the White House after an extention of three-and-a-half months, which was requested by senior officials in the Trump administration. She participated in Trump's meeting with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas on Wednesday, making it her last event before returning to the State Department in the coming days.
Bauman will join a National Security Council in which military officers – on active duty and retired – are holding a number of senior positions, led by U.S. National Security Adviser General H.R McMaster. From 2011 to 2012, Bauman served as an intelligence officer in Iraq. Prior to that, he was a faculty member at the U.S. Air Force Command and Staff College. Bauman holds a PhD from the University of Denver, where his dissertation focused on "multiparty mediation in the Israeli Palestinian peace process." He began his military career as a pilot flying C-27 and C-5 aircraft.