Netanyahu Takes Flak on Ambassadorial Appointments

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu was considering appointing new ambassadors to Egypt and the United Nations sparked opposition from diplomats and rival politicians on Wednesday.

The Blue and White party sent a letter to Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit asking him to intervene to prevent the prime minister from going ahead with the appointments, citing previous legal rulings against making such decisions during an election campaign.

In a separate letter, a group of 18 former ambassadors called on the prime minister to confirm the current ambassador to Cairo, Amira Oron, an experienced diplomat whom they said would be “a worthy professional appointment to the sensitive position in Egypt [which] is far more important than a ‘political arrangement.’”

The political arrangement referred to was the reported likelihood that Netanyahu would give the job to current Communications Minister Ayoub Kara, as a reward for his loyal support over the years. Kara did not make the cut on the Likud list for the Knesset in the April election.

The ambassadors argued that the sensitivity of relations with Egypt demands the skills of someone such as Amira Oron, who previously headed the Foreign Ministry’s Egypt division and has been stationed in Cairo since last fall.

“Just as it is unthinkable to appoint as a department head in a hospital someone who never trained or practiced as a doctor, or appoint as an army commander someone who was not suitably trained, so too it is necessary to place at the head of Israel’s embassy in Cairo the most professional person possible, and not give it out as a consolation prize,” the retired ambassadors wrote.

Among those who signed the letter were Daniel Shek, a former ambassador to France; Daniel Carmon, who served as Israel’s ambassador to India; Liora Herzl, former ambassador to Norway; Baruch Binah, former ambassador to Denmark and deputy head of mission in the U.S.; and Alon Liel, a former ambassador to South Africa and director-general of the ministry.

The Prime Minister’s Office refused comment on the reports that Kara was being considered for the Cairo posting.

Similarly, there was no official confirmation that Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) has been chosen to succeed the U.N. ambassador, Danny Danon, whose term expires in a few weeks.