PM, FM disagree on NY consul-general

Meanwhile, temporary replacement Ido Aharoni to fill position.

August 20, 2010 02:32
2 minute read.

Aharoni 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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US President Barack Obama nominated Elena Kagan as a Supreme Court justice and the Senate confirmed her in a fraction of the time it has taken Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman to agree on a consul-general for New York.

Indeed, diplomatic officials confirmed that veteran diplomat Ido Aharoni will fly to New York this week to temporarily take up that post as acting consul-general while Netanyahu and Lieberman continue to disagree on a permanent replacement.

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Lieberman’s choice for the job, Yuval Steinitz’s chief-of-staff David Sharan, is facing resistance from Netanyahu. Meanwhile, Assi Shariv, the outgoing consul, returned to Israel this week, and it was necessary, diplomatic officials said, to send Aharoni to fill the vacuum.

Aharoni has served in the past as the spokesman at the consulate, spokesman to then-foreign minister Tzipi Livni, and most recently as the official in charge of the Israel rebranding project in the Foreign Ministry.

Sharan’s appointment, according to diplomatic sources, still needs to be vetted by the Civil Service Commission, as well as an internal Foreign Ministry panel, before being brought to the cabinet for approval. Officials in the Prime Minister’s Office have objected to his appointment to the prestigious New York position on the grounds that while he may speak fluent English, he has no diplomatic experience.

Since Aharoni is a diplomat, and the appointment is only temporary, he does not need cabinet approval. Aharoni will be joining another temporary appointment in New York, also the product of a failure of Lieberman and Netanyahu to agree on a candidate: Meron Reuben as acting envoy at the UN.

Lieberman’s first choice for the New York job, Shai Bazak, was nixed by Netanyahu. Bazak served during Netanyahu’s first term as his spokesman, coming to that position from the Council of Jewish Communities in Judea, Samaria and Gaza, where he also served as spokesman. Following his stint as Netanyahu’s spokesman, he was appointed Israel’s consul-general to Miami.

He is now, government sources say, Lieberman’s top pick for the consul-general position in Boston.

According to these sources, Netanyahu has no objection to sending him there. However, his appointment will not be brought to the cabinet this Sunday.

Diplomatic sources deflected criticism that Bazak, with his strong Likud credentials, is not the right man to send to Boston, the site of numerous universities and one of America’s most liberal cities, saying that he has proven his ability to represent the country’s policies faithfully and well.

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