Diplomat in WJC feud temporarily returns to Foreign Ministry

Oded Eran's return comes despite unresolved struggle between Jerusalem and NY offices.

oded eran wjc 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
oded eran wjc 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )
The diplomat whose appointment to head the Jerusalem office of the World Jewish Congress set off a months-old feud over control of the Israel office has resumed his diplomatic career for the next three months, the Foreign Ministry said Sunday. Ambassador to the European Union Oded Eran, who had originally been due to begin his job at the World Jewish Congress (WJC) in Jerusalem at the beginning of the month, will continue in his position as ambassador through March 31, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said. Eran's return to the Foreign Ministry just days after his previously announced retirement comes during a still unresolved struggle between the Jerusalem and New York offices of the organization over his appointment. Negotiations between the two offices to reach an eleventh-hour compromise are slated to resume this week following an extended New Year's holiday in the United States. One proposal being considered would see a six-month freeze of the status quo at the Jerusalem office. The appointment is seen by members of the Israeli board as an attempt by the organization's New York-based secretary-general, Stephen E. Herbits, to bypass the Jerusalem office from New York with a hand-picked appointment who will serve as his personal emissary. The group's New York office has called Eran "uniquely qualified" for the posting. The New York office was not immediately available for comment on Sunday. Last month Ometz, an anti-corruption group, questioned Eran's appointment to the position the day after he completes his tenure at the foreign ministry without a cooling off period. The organization said in a letter to the Attorney-General's Office and to Civil Service Commissioner Ya'acov Hollander that only a special committee on a Jerusalem court is mandated by law to grant the diplomat an exemption from the required cooling off period, something which, they stressed, has not been done to date. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman had previously said that the ministry's legal adviser has determined that Eran did not require a cooling off period between jobs - even though both jobs will deal directly with the Foreign Ministry - since his new work will be in Israel and not in Brussels where he is currently stationed. Eran has declined comment on the issue due to his current status as a Foreign Ministry official. In the past, a former official who worked in the New York consulate, Alon Pinkas, was barred from accepting a job with the United Jewish Communities in New York immediately after his tenure at the consulate due to the mandated cooling off period. Eran, 65, has previously served as Israeli ambassador to Jordan, and then headed the Foreign Ministry's team in the failed peace talks with the Palestinians between 1999-2001. The WJC, which has recently undergone a major overhaul due to a much-publicized case of internal financial mismanagement, is best known for recovering billions of dollars in restitution for Holocaust victims.