PM nominee Leiter 'not interested' in New York consul-general position

PM nominee Leiter not i

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's former chief of staff, Yechiel Leiter, said on Sunday that he is currently "not interested" in serving as consul-general in New York. Yediot Aharonot reported on Sunday that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman was insisting on appointing former consul-general in New York Alon Pinkas as the next ambassador to the UN and Netanyahu's former spokesman Shai Bazak to Pinkas's old job. According to the report, Netanyahu told Lieberman that he wanted former ambassador to the UN Dore Gold to return to the post and Leiter to be consul-general in New York, but Lieberman refused. A source in the Prime Minister's Office confirmed that Leiter's name had been raised. Leiter said that over the past year, he had been offered several plum positions, including chairman of the Israel Broadcasting Authority, the Mifal Hapais national lottery, and the Mekorot national water company. He said he was currently busy finishing his doctorate and involved in potentially lucrative business ventures, but he would not rule out accepting an ambassadorial appointment in the future. A Scranton, Pennsylvania, native who has spoken for Israel in several capacities, Leiter ran unsuccessfully for Knesset with the Likud last year and then did not receive the appointment he was hoping for as cabinet secretary. Leiter does not maintain good relations with Lieberman. Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who is seen as a possible successor to Lieberman if he quits his post due to his legal problems, declined to address speculation that Netanyahu was purposely stalling appointments until Lieberman's departure. Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz has hinted in the past that he wanted to make a decision about Lieberman's corruption case by the time he leaves his post on January 31. Lieberman said he would quit his post if indicted even though he would not be legally required to do so. Ayalon, who oversees the Foreign Ministry's appointments committee, said there was no hurry to appoint a consul-general in New York because current consul Asi Shariv is not due to leave his post until August.