The post of ambassador to Russia is currently vacant, and will probably stay that way for months to come.
Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is reserving the post for a political appointee, who may not be named for several months, The Times of Israel reported on Tuesday, citing several diplomatic sources.
Israel’s last ambassador to Russia, Gary Koren, left in mid-September. His deputy, Keren Cohen Gat, filled in until Yacov Livne, the director of the Foreign Ministry’s Eurasia department, arrived on November 8 and took over as temporary charge d’affaires.
The Foreign Ministry decided to send Livne to Russia “to back up the embassy with a senior and experienced diplomat in light of the expected visit of Russia’s president in January 2020,” a spokesperson told the Times.
Under a longstanding agreement between the Israeli government and the foreign service, the prime minister and the foreign minister have the prerogative to make a total of 11 political appointees.
However, a caretaker government, such as the one currently in place, is not empowered to make political appointments to diplomatic positions. Since the job vacancy was not advertised within the ministry, it suggests that Netanyahu is holding it for a future appointee of his own choosing. But if elections come, that might not be until next spring.
The Prime Minister’s Office declined comment.