Daniel Taub named new Israeli ambassador to London

British-born diplomat who will replace Ron Prosor considered an authority on humanitarian law and counterterrorism.

June 20, 2011 14:38
3 minute read.
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london 224 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)

The Foreign Ministry’s senior appointments committee on Monday named Britishborn, highly regarded 18-year ministry-veteran Daniel Taub as the next ambassador to London, and was immediately skewered by the ministry’s workers committee, which issued a statement calling Taub a “junior employee” not ready for the position.

Taub, whose appointment now goes to the full cabinet for approval, is slated to replace Ron Prosor, who recently took up his post as ambassador to the UN.

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Earlier this year Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman blocked Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s first choice for the job, former national security adviser Uzi Arad, saying there were many qualified candidates from within the ministry – some of whom were born in Britain – for the sought-after position.

Taub, currently the Foreign Ministry’s senior deputy legal adviser, is an authority on humanitarian law, international organizations and counterterrorism. He has served on Israel’s negotiating teams during talks with both the Palestinians and the Syrians, and was co-opted by the prime minister last September as part of his small team that negotiated for just a few weeks with the Palestinians.

Just recently he was on the Israeli team that presented Israel’s case to the UN Committee investigating last year’s Mavi Marmara raid.

Taub took part in 2008 in the negotiations between then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni and the PLO’s Ahmed Qurei. He has represented Israel at the International Court of Justice and – because of his fluent English, knowledge of the issues, and communications skills – has been called upon numerous times to act as an ad hoc spokesman for the ministry.

Taub, married with six children, holds degrees from Oxford and Harvard, and was a debating champion during his days at Oxford.

One Foreign Ministry official said that what bothered the workers committee about the appointment was that Taub did not go through the ministry’s cadets’ course for diplomats, and that in gaining the appointment he leapfrogged over a number of diplomats with more seniority and experience in embassies abroad.

Among other diplomats vying for the job were Baruch Bina, the ministry’s deputy director-general for North America and Jeremy Issacharoff, the deputy director- general for strategic affairs.

Both have extensive experience in embassies abroad, something Taub lacks.

Hanan Goder-Goldberger, the workers committee’s cohead who himself was appointed on Sunday as envoy to Nepal, said that the objections were not against Taub personally, but rather that the minister decided to promote a “junior employee” to one of the ministry’s most senior posts.

Goder-Goldberger issued a statement saying the workers committee “strongly condemns” the appointment, and that the appointments committee “ignored talented employees of the Foreign Ministry and chose to appoint a junior employee who had never served overseas and managed a team of employees, as is customary in Israel’s embassies around the world.”

Junior employees needed to “learn the profession before being appointed a diplomat or ambassador,” according to the statement.

It characterized the appointment as an attempt by Lieberman to manage the ministry as if it were “a branch of a political party,” and said it was the result of a system that did not set firm criteria for appointments to the Foreign Service.

One Foreign Ministry official explained that there was a long, simmering bureaucratic dispute inside the ministry between diplomatic staff who entered it through the cadets’ course, and those who joined the ministry either as administrative workers or, as in Taub’s case, reinforcements for the legal department.

Taub is out of the country and could not be reached for comment.

One senior ministry official, however, dismissed the workers committee’s protests, saying that those opposed to the appointment were complaining simply because they thought the only criteria for appointments such as these should be “seniority, not intelligence or capability.”

“The only really difficult thing about the Taub appointment,” the official said, “is that it will be impossible to find someone to replace him in the legal department.”

The appointment’s committee also named Joel Lion, currently the spokesman at the consulate in New York, as the new consul-general in Montreal.

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