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Jordan has appointed a new ambassador to Israel after more than six months in which the post was vacant.
Government officials in Amman said the new ambassador, Ali Ayed, 42, would replace Marouf al-Bakhiti, who was appointed prime minister in November. The Jordanian government was expected to approve Ayed's appointment on Tuesday, the officials said.
Ayed served as charg d'affairs in the Jordanian Embassy in Washington from 1997 to 2001. He later served as spokesman for the Jordanian Foreign Ministry.
Ayed also served briefly as charg d'affairs in Jordan's embassy in Israel.
Most recently, he handled political affairs at the prime minister's office.
Diplomatic sources in Jerusalem said the new ambassador's appointment comes at a time of growing concern in Jordan about Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's convergence plan.
An ambassador in Israel, the sources said, was necessary to give Amman a better feel for the thinking in Jerusalem.
Amman has made clear that it is opposed to the plan, and Israeli officials have said that Jordan viewed a Hamas-led entity in the West Bank as a real strategic threat.
"They want a hand on the pulse," one source said. "They want to follow up-close, and not through intermediaries, what is happening with the plan, and they also want a good channel of communications with Jerusalem."
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