James Wolfensohn, Former World Bank President, Gaza Envoy, Dies at 86
Former World Bank president, James Wolfensohn, who also served as a special envoy for Israel’s disengagement from Gaza, has died. Wolfensohn died on Nov. 25 at his home in Manhattan at the age of 86. A graduate of Harvard Business School who became an investment banker, Wolfensohn was born in Australia, received US citizenship in 1980 and worked on Wall Street for several years. He was nominated to lead the World Bank in 1995 by US President Bill Clinton and served for two five-year terms. During his tenure, he instituted numerous reforms and drew attention to corruption in World Bank projects especially in developing countries. He later became the envoy to the Gaza Strip for the Middle East Quartet, made up of the United States, Russia, the United Nations, and the European Union. In that position, he was involved in Israel leaving Gaza in 2005. He raised some $14 million to purchase the Gaza Jewish settlements’ greenhouses for use by Gaza farmers after Israel’s disengagement from the territory. The greenhouses were ultimately looted by Gaza residents, however. He served as chair of New York’s Carnegie Hall in the 1980s and helped raise some $60 million to renovate the landmark, including donating $1 million himself. He was also chair of the Kennedy Center in Washington in the early 1990s. He founded, in 2006, the Wolfensohn Center for Development at the Brookings Institution, a think tank based in Washington, DC. He also was a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, a nonprofit think tank. His wife, Elaine, predeceased him by three months. He is survived by three children and seven grandchildren.