Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to appoint Ron Prosor as UN ambassador fills an important hole in the foreign service, but creates another gap elsewhere, since National Security Council head Uzi Arad, 64, is expected to succeed Prosor as ambassador in London, further shrinking Netanyahu’s already small circle of close advisers.
Sources in the Prime Minister’s Office confirmed Sunday’s report in Yisrael Hayom that Netanyahu would indeed appoint Prosor to the UN, a position that has been filled by a temporary replacement – Meron Reuben – since Gabriela Shalev’s term expired in August. The source also confirmed that Netanyahu wanted to send Arad to London.
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Sources in Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s office, meanwhile, confirmed that Prosor would go to the UN, but did not confirm that Arad would take his place in London.
No official statement has yet been issued.
The ambassadorship to the United Nations has been a political football kicked back and forth between Netanyahu and Lieberman for months, with both men at various times vetoing the other’s selection for the job.
Lieberman brought Prosor’s name to Netanyahu last week, after Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan – a nominee agreed upon by both men – took himself out of the running.
Prosor, who was in Israel last week attending the Herzliya Conference, has served as the Foreign Ministry’s directorgeneral and spokesmen, and in key posts at the embassies in Bonn and Washington. Fluent in English and German, Prosor, born in 1958, is a veteran diplomat with vast experience, both in the type of backroom negotiations that take place at the UN, and in dealing with the media.
A number of names have already been bandied about as possible replacements for Arad, such as Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror and Maj.-Gen.
Meir Kalifi, who was appointed as the prime minister’s military attaché in 2007 and served in the position under Netanyahu until December 2010.
Neither of them enjoys the long-term relationship with Netanyahu, or the same level of trust, as Arad enjoyed. Arad, who was Netanyahu’s chief foreign policy adviser during his first term, and a close confidant during the years following, was one of the prime minister’s key troubleshooters, frequently sent on his behalf for consultations in the US, Egypt, Jordan, Russia, France and India.
The news of Arad’s likely departure came about a month and a half after Netanyahu’s spokesman, Nir Hefetz, and his political adviser, Shalom Shlomo, quit.
Netanyahu’s trimmed-down inner circle now consists of the following:
• Zvi Hauser, the cabinet secretary, who has emerged as an indispensible go-between with Netanyahu’s coalition partners.
He is a trusted adviser whose power inside the Prime Minister’s Office is increasing. He was thought to have been at odds, along with Hefetz, with Arad on a number of issues.
• Ron Dermer, Netanyahu’s senior adviser, runs much of the interference with the White House, and is intimately involved in the diplomatic process with the Palestinians.
He also writes many of Netanyahu’s speeches.
• Yitzhak Molcho, Netanyahu’s longtime friend and attorney, remains the prime minister’s envoy and main pointman on the Palestinian issue, and was Netanyahu’s negotiator with the Palestinians during those few weeks in September when there were actually negotiations.
• Eyal Gabai, the directorgeneral of the Prime Minister’s Office, is in charge of dealing with day-to-day projects and bringing them to the prime minister for his approval.
These projects included everything from the NIS 680 million plan to strengthen Druse and Circassian communities that was approved at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, to shepherding through construction of the security barrier along the 240-km. border with Egypt.
• Gil Sheffer, bureau director, was recently promoted from dealing with Netanyahu’s visits outside the office to being in charge of his overall schedule.
• Natan Eshel, chief of staff, is responsible for Netanyahu’s smooth working with the three religious parties in the coalition – Shas, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi.
Eugene Kendal, the head of the National Economic Council inside the Prime Minister’s Office, is Netanyahu’s key economic adviser.