Eisen to replace spokesman Gissin

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has decided to appoint Col. (res.) Miri Eisen as his new spokeswoman for the foreign press, replacing Ra'anan Gissin, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said on Monday. Olmert's media adviser Asi Shariv would not confirm or deny the news, but said a formal announcement about Gissin's replacement would be made shortly. Gissin's last day on the job was a month ago and Olmert was barred from hiring anyone to replace him during a 30-day severance period that ends on Thursday. After serving as a regular spokesperson for the government in Operation Defensive Shield, Eisen was commissioned by the Prime Minister's Office and the Foreign Ministry to speak on the government's behalf when the IDF operations in Lebanon began on July 12. Since then, she has given more than 80 interviews in the Haifa area. Following Sunday night's rocket attacks in Haifa, Eisen spent Monday giving interviews to the foreign press in the wreckage of a building that was destroyed by Hizbullah. Her high-profile interviews on Monday included speaking to NBC's Martin Fletcher in the wreckage and to CNN's Larry King. "Miri Eisen is a terrific spokeswoman and a nice lady who has had a good relationship with the Prime Minister's Office for quite some time," a source close to Olmert said. Israel Director Calev Ben-David, who has worked extensively with Eisen, called her an outstanding choice. He said Eisen was chosen on her merits and that polls show international viewers respond better to Israeli women spokespeople than men. "Olmert got the best person for the job," Ben-David said. Eisen was raised in northern California and moved with her family when she was nine to Tel Aviv, where she still lives with her three children. She holds a bachelor's degree in political science and Middle Eastern studies from Tel Aviv University, a master's degree in security studies from Haifa University and she is also a graduate of the Israeli National Defense College and the Staff College. She rose to the rank of colonel in the IDF's Intelligence Corps, where she was head of doctrine. Gissin, meanwhile, continues to give interviews to the foreign press on a freelance basis and is currently on a speaking tour in the US, raising emergency funds for the Jewish National Fund.