Moyal "sees great importance in running the city during these difficult days."
By HERB KEINONSderot Mayor Eli Moyal told Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom Thursday evening that he was removing himself as a candidate to serve as Israel's ambassador to France.
Shalom offered Moyal the Paris posting several months ago, and in a number of days his appointment was to come before a Civil Service Commission panel that approves all the foreign minister's political appointments to ambassadorial and consul-general positions.
Sderot spokesman Yossi Cohen issued a statement announcing that Moyal had removed his candidacy. "He is staying in the city, and sees great importance in running the city during these difficult days," the statement read, adding that Moyal's decision was final.
A spokesman for Shalom said Moyal thanked the foreign minister for the offer, but said he had to decline "for personal reasons." The spokesman did not elaborate.
The official said that Shalom would name another candidate in the near future to fill the position recently vacated by Nissim Zvilli.
Prior to meeting Moyal, Shalom also met Thursday with visiting British Chancellor of the Exchequer Gordon Brown and urged him to close down a British-based charitable organization that Israel maintains is a front organization for Hamas.
Israeli officials have been pressing Britain for over a year to close the Palestinian Relief and Development Fund (Interpal), an organization the US has labeled a "Specially Designated Global Terrorist" entity and which raises millions of dollars each year, money Shalom said goes directly to support terror.
According to Shalom's office Brown said he would look into the matter and get back to Shalom with his findings.
This is not the first time Shalom has brought the issue up with British officials. Last November he raised the matter with Foreign Secretary Jack Straw when he was visiting Israel. Straw said at a press conference then that the organization was operating within the confines of British law.
"As far as Interpal is concerned," Straw said at the time, "there was an investigation by our Charity Commission, which is independent of ministerial control, and they looked at it very carefully and came to the view that Interpal can continue to operate within the law."
Straw said these matters were "kept under review, and if there is any further evidence from the government of Israel or from here or elsewhere, they will be brought before the Charity Commission."