Majallie Whbee 298.88.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Kadima MK Majallie Whbee, the Druse MK who was close to former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon and who Sharon sent on numerous diplomatic missions in the Arab world, will be appointed deputy foreign minister next week, Foreign Ministry officials said Sunday.
According to the officials, the decision was made at a meeting Whbee held Sunday with Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni. After the meeting, Whbee flew to England for meetings there. The appointment is scheduled to be announced in the Knesset next week when he returns.
The deputy foreign minister position has not been filled since Labor MK Michael Melchior left the post in October 2002. Melchior was appointed in March 2001, succeeding Labor's Nawaf Masalha, who held the position from August 1999.
Government officials said Livni and Whbee had not yet clearly defined Whbee's responsibilities, and will do so when he returns. The two worked together from 2001 when Livni was the minister for regional cooperation and Whbee was her director-general.
Whbee has made clear his interest in a position with ministerial responsibilities ever since the Olmert government was formed last year, but previous suggestions to name him deputy interior minister or a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Office bore no fruit.
Foreign Ministry officials said there were numerous duties Whbee could perform, including state visits that Livni - who was recently named head of Israel's negotiating team with the Palestinians - is too busy to embark upon.
Whbee, from the Galilee Druse village of Beit Jann, worked for Sharon in the 1990s, first in the National Infrastructures Ministry, and then at the Foreign Ministry. He quickly became Sharon's point man with the Arab world. He is known to have developed close relations with the Jordanian royal family, and was used in the past by Sharon as an envoy both to Jordan and to Egypt.
In September 1997, Whbee went with Sharon to meet King Hussein and arranged for the release of the two Mossad operatives after the failed attempt to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal in Amman.
Prior to the 2000 elections, Sharon dispatched Whbee to a number of Arab capitals for meetings with Arab leaders in an attempt to allay their fears about the future Sharon government.