Israeli Diplomats Call to Stop Netanyahu's Political Appointment of Cairo Envoy

Netanyahu is considering naming Likud minister Ayoub Kara to the sensitive position, despite the fact that he caused diplomatic incidents in the past

File photo: Amira Oron with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, 2016.
Binnur Ege Gurun / Anadolu Agen

Foreign Ministry employees have written Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz in recent days, asking him to act against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's move to consider Likud lawmaker Ayoub Kara for the position of Israel's envoy to Egypt.

The Foreign Ministry representatives are asking Katz to defend a different candidate for the position: Amira Oron, a veteran and esteemed diplomat who was elected for the role by the ministry's appointments committee.

The decision is now awaiting the final say of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, who is supposed to determine whether such a political appointment can even be made while Israel is headed for an election campaign.

Oron is an expert on Middle Eastern affairs and fluent in Arabic. She served as the head of the Foreign Ministry's Egypt department and was in charge of the Israeli Embassy in Turkey. As Channel 13 News have reported, Netanyahu is looking into the option of cancelling her appointment and tapping Kara instead.

Kara, who serves as communications minister, had caused in the past several embarrassing diplomatic incidents. In one instance, it was reported that he planned to leave his team behind in Dubai after he was detained in the airport there. It was also reported that he caused a crisis between Israel and Italy by revealing a security affair that Israel was embroiled in.

The position of ambassador to Egypt is considered especially sensitive because of the complex and discreet defense ties between Cairo and Jerusalem. Foreign Ministry officials are furious that Netanyahu wants to appoint a man who has caused Israel embarrassment in the past, especially due to the fact that he is opting for him over a professional and experienced diplomat who had already been chosen for the position.

Ministry employees are afraid to address the subject publicly because under Netanyahu, their workplace has been degraded; they also fear revenge. But many who have asked not to be named say that if Kara is appointed, it would be a "slap in the face."

Against this backdrop, a group of former ambassadors called on the government Wednesday to expedite the process of naming Oron the ambassador. "A professional appointment is worthy of the sensitive role in Egypt and much more important than a political deal," they wrote.

"As those who have worked as diplomats professionally and represented the country abroad for decades, we know what a unique issue diplomacy is and how much it requires commitment, professionalism and extensive knowledge that are acquired through many years of working and serving the country."

The signatories to the letter also noted that serving Israel in Egypt is especially important, because relations with the neighboring country "are a cornerstone for Israel in the Middle East."

"Much like it does not make sense to appoint someone without experience in medicine to be the chief of a hospital ward or an army general who doesn't have military experience, it doesn't make sense to appoint someone to the Israeli Embassy in Cairo as a consolation reward."

File photo: Ayoub Kara entering a a government meeting in Jerusalem, Israel, July, 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg
File photo: Amira Oron with Turkey's Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Ankara, Turkey, 2016.
Binnur Ege Gurun / Anadolu Agen