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The “presence of any U.S. ambassador in Damascus has the net effect of legitimizing a regime that poses a serious threat to its own people and to U.S. national security, our interests and our allies,” Mrs. Ros-Lehtinen said.

Former President George W. Bush withdrew Ambassador Margaret Scobey in 2005 to protest suspected Syrian ties to the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafik Hariri.

PALESTINIAN ‘ILLUSION’

The new U.S. ambassador to Israel warned Palestinian officials that nothing will change, even if they do get the United Nations to declare a nation of Palestine.

Ambassador Daniel Shapiro said the “Palestinians’ bid for U.N. recognition will not change reality and that the Israeli-Palestinian conflict can only be solved via negotiations,” Israel Radio reported, after interviewing the new envoy Tuesday.

Israeli President Shimon Peres met with Mr. Shapiro on Wednesday to receive his diplomatic credentials and took the occasion to praise President Obama as a “friend of the Jewish people and the state of Israel.”

Mr. Obama is deeply unpopular in Israel, where most Israelis believe he has a pro-Palestinian bias.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.