Watchdog group questions WJC appointment

Oded Eran named envoy to WJC immediately after end of term as EU ambassador.

oded eran 88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
oded eran 88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
An Israeli anti-corruption group questioned Tuesday the appointment of Israel's current ambassador to the European Union to head the Israel office of the World Jewish Congress, the day after he completes his tenure in the Foreign Ministry, without a cooling off period. The complaint lodged by the non-profit Ometz organization to Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz and Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander against the appointment of Ambassador Oded Eran comes two weeks after MK Benny Elon (National Union-NRP) filed a similar querie to Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni following a story about the appointment in The Jerusalem Post. The organization said that only a special committee on the Jerusalem District Court is mandated by law to allot an exemption for the career diplomat from the required cooling off period, something which they stressed has not been done to date. "Allotting an exemption without appealing to the committee is contempt and cheapening of the law," the group's chairman Aryeh Avneri wrote in the letter. Eran, a career diplomat with four decades of foreign service, including a posting in Amman, is scheduled to take up the position at the World Jewish Congress in Jerusalem on January 1, just one day after completing his tenure as Israeli Ambassador to the EU. A Foreign Ministry spokeswoman had previously told the Post that the ministry's legal advisor has determined that Eran did not require a cooling off period between jobs 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. The unilateral appointment of Eran to the posting, has caused a fierce - and as yet unresolved - struggle between the Jerusalem and New York offices of the organization over control of the Israel office. The appointment is seen by members of the Israeli board as an unilateral attempt by the organization's New York based secretary general Stephen Herbits, who appointed Eran, to by-pass the Jerusalem office with a hand-picked appointment who will serve as his personal emissary. The New York office has called Eran "uniquely qualified" for the posting. In the meantime, the organization's New York headquarters has temporarily frozen funding to its Jerusalem office following the dispute, citing "a major cash flow shortage." The chairman of the Israeli board of the organization, MK Shai Hermesh (Kadima), has called the two-month old freeze in funding "political sanctions," and has urged the group's president Edgar M. Bronfman to intercede on the issue.