Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman is planning to tap veteran Israeli diplomat Alon Pinkas for the crucial ambassadorship to the United Nations in New York. The appointment is raising some eyebrows in the ministry, since Pinkas was a senior diplomatic advisor to a series of senior political figures on the Left, including former foreign minister Shlomo Ben-Ami, President Shimon Peres during his term as foreign minister from March 2001 to November 2002 and Defense Minister Ehud Barak during his premiership from 1999 to 2001. In making the appointment, Lieberman "is using one of the [traditional positions given to] political appointees, but instead putting in place a consummate professional," said a source close to Lieberman. "The United Nations slot requires a professional because it's one of the most critical arenas for Israeli diplomacy," the official added. A diplomatic official familiar with Pinkas's record added that "Pinkas has moved to the center in his politics, judging by public statements and writings over the last few years. His opinions are respected on the Left and by [Lieberman]." Pinkas, a former Jerusalem Post defense correspondent, served as consul-general in New York from 2000 to 2004, and is considered an expert on American affairs. Pinkas declined to discuss the appointment, saying it was inappropriate to speak publicly before a final decision is made. The appointment is expected to pass procedural hurdles, including the approval of the Civil Service Commission and the Cabinet. If all goes well, Pinkas would replace Ambassador Gabriela Shalev as head of the Israeli mission to the UN in the summer.