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In Washington, the chairwoman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee said Mr. Gutman’s comments come “too close to supplying justification for senseless aggression” against Jews.

“The ambassador’s comments fail to recognize that Israel has made sacrifices for peace time and again, while the Palestinian leaders refuse even to recognize Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state,” said Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen , Florida Republican.

Over the weekend, Republican presidential candidates Mitt Romney, a former governor of Massachusetts, and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich called on Mr. Obama to dismiss the ambassador.


The U.S. ambassador to Syria - recalled to Washington in October because of death threats - is returning to Damascus, where the conflict that caused his departure has deteriorated into what the United Nations is calling a civil war.

Ambassador Robert Ford was due to board a plane for Syria on Tuesday evening, the State Department said.

Mr. Ford frequently denounced Syrian President Bashir Assad’s government for killing peaceful protesters and traveled outside the capital to meet with dissidents.

The U.N. estimates that more than 4,000 Syrians have died since the uprising erupted in March.

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