Israel’s former ambassador to the United States Michael Oren will run for the Knesset with Moshe Kahlon’s new Kulanu party, it was made official on Wednesday after several days of rumors.
Oren’s entry into the ferocious arena of Israeli politics follows a career as a historian and lecturer, and his ambassadorial stint of four years in Washington. An upstate New York native, Oren was raised in West Orange, New Jersey.
The former diplomat will be a foreign policy asset to Kahlon’s campaign, which has been focusing almost exclusively on domestic issues.
“Unfortunately, allies of Israel are distancing themselves and our relations aren’t what they were in the past,” Kahlon said at a press conference on Wednesday. “Michael Oren is the right person to handle this responsibility. He proved that even when there are disagreements, he can maintain close ties. Michael is the best in his field.”
“Israel is at a critical junction,” Oren said. “I couldn’t look from the sidelines and do nothing when Israel is under diplomatic attack.”
The two have expressed different opinions on how to deal with the Palestinians in the past. Kahlon strongly opposed withdrawing from the Gaza Strip and once supported annexing much of Yehudah and Shomron. But lately he has expressed support for territorial concessions, which Oren has favored.
In other campaign news, Tzipi Livni’s Movement party is rapidly dematerializing. Meir Sheetrit, a veteran MK and close runner-up in the voting for president last summer, was expected to announce his resignation from the party on Thursday.
Sheetrit joins fellow Movement alumni Amram Mitzna, David Tsur, and Elazar Stern, all of whom indicated that they are either quitting politics altogether or are running for Knesset with a different party.