CAIRO: Israel is set to name a new ambassador to Egypt after incumbent Yitzhak Levanon declined to continue in his post past his retirement age despite having been in Egypt for less than a year.
The name of Ya’acov Amitai was announced Sunday as the replacement by the Appointments Committee of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. He was formerly the Israeli Ambassador to Ethiopia, taking over in 2005 after his predecessor died from wounds sustained from shooting himself. Amitai was currently the VP of the Ministry’s Center for Political Research.
Levanon was named to replace Shalom Cohen in November 2009 but assumed his duties in Cairo the following February. A fluent Arabic speaker, Levanon was born in Lebanon and is the son of Shula Cohen, who almost got executed in Lebanon after being accused of being a Mossad operative in 1961. However her death sentence never happened as she was released in 1967 as part of a prisoner exchange after the Six Day war.
The Israeli ambassadorship to Cairo has become a sort of poisoned chalice since the appointment of Avigdor Lieberman as Israel’s foreign minister. He has angered the Egyptian government with a number of comments, and in response Egypt has refused to host him in any capacity and severely limited dealings with his emissaries in Cairo.
Levanon often complained about “inhospitable conditions” of working in Cairo according to an Israeli foreign ministry report. Originally Lieberman had wanted to appoint Israeli reserve officer Shaul Kamisa who was discounted for being investigated on bribery charges and his closeness to Lieberman, not a selling point in Cairo.
Lieberman had angered the Egyptian regime by stating that President Hosni Mubarak could “go to hell” for not visiting Israel in an official capacity and had also advocated the bombing of the Aswan Dam.