Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal, who for the last seven years has been responsible for the Negev town peppered by Kassam attacks, confirmed Sunday that Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom
offered him the job as ambassador in a less stressful city - Paris
Moyal told The Jerusalem Post
Shalom offered him the job a couple of months ago, adding: "It is a difficult offer to refuse." At the same time, he said, "there are many different things to consider."
One of them would be leaving a job he was reelected to perform for four years, only two years ago. The Foreign Ministry has in the past sent Moyal to the US and Europe to speak about the difficulties facing his city. He was first elected in 1998, and reelected in 2003.
In response to Hebrew press reports that he is close to Shalom, Moyal said: "I am close to myself."
A tough person to pigeonhole, the Sderot mayor, a lifetime Likud member, was reported earlier this year to have switched political allegiance from Binyamin Netanyahu
to Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz
. In April he even showed up at a rally for Labor prime ministerial hopeful Matan Vilna'i, saying Vilna'i would "be the proper man to lead the country in the coming years."
Since Moyal would be a political appointment, his candidacy now must go to a Civil Service Commission panel that needs to approve all the foreign minister's political appointments to ambassadorial and consul-general positions.
This is expected to take place in the second week of November.
If approved by the committee, the appointment would then have to be approved by the government. Shalom is allowed 11 political appointments.
In 2004 the commission rejected Ofra Preuss, who was Shalom's choice to replace Alon Pinkas
as consul-general in New York
Moyal was born in Morocco
, and immigrated to Israel when he was five.
He said he only speaks basic French, and would have to take a French course. But, he added, "to the best of my knowledge, France's
ambassador to Israel doesn't speak Hebrew." Moyal is fluent in English.
If approved, he would replace Nissim Zvilli, a close confidant of Shimon Peres
, whom Peres appointed in 2003 when he was foreign minister.
The appointment would come at a time when numerous other appointments inside the ministry - nonpolitical ones - have been frozen pending a review and overhaul of the appointments system inside the Foreign Ministry.
This review and overhaul came as a result of a decision by the Jerusalem Labor Court in the summer that blocked a high-profile appointment to London, citing structural problems in the way ministry's appointments were made.
One Foreign Ministry official said, however, that since political appointments "are on a different track" and must go through the Civil Service Commission, they have not been affected by the court's decision.