raanan gissin 88.
(photo credit: )
Ra'anan Gissin, the Prime Minister Office's foreign press spokesman who for the last five years has been an Israeli fixture in the foreign media, will not accompany Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on his trip to Europe on Sunday, an apparent sign he will soon be leaving his job.
Gissin, a confidant of former prime minister Ariel Sharon who served as his foreign press adviser since 2001, said he asked not to join Olmert's five-day trip to Britain and France because he wanted to appear at a Knesset committee meeting later this week that will discuss commemorating 50 years since the paratrooper jump in the Mitla pass during the 1956 Suez Campaign.
That ceremony, which Gissin is organizing, will also be a salute to Sharon, who was the paratroop commander.
Nevertheless, officials inside the Prime Minister's Office said Gissin feels he is slowly being shown the door, and that instead of firing him, Olmert's advisers were "making it impossible to do his work" in the expectation that this would lead him to resign.
Gissin, according to government sources, is not involved in meetings and is not being briefed to the extent that he was under Sharon.
Gissin had been with Sharon since the mid-1990s when he served as his spokesman at the National Infrastructure Ministry. He then followed Sharon to the Foreign Ministry, and later to the Prime Minister's Office where his influence stemmed largely form his daily access: Gissin spoke to Sharon every morning when he read him the highlights from the day's newspapers.
Olmert ended this practice when he took over for Sharon in January, a move that diminished Gissin's standing inside the office.