Lapid taps former tourism minister to serve as consul general in New York

Asaf Zamir, who lived in US, was deputy mayor of Tel Aviv and resigned from previous Netanyahu government, will fill post that’s been vacant for almost a year

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

Former tourism minister Asaf Zamir poses for a picture at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)
Former tourism minister Asaf Zamir poses for a picture at the Knesset, on April 29, 2019. (Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90)

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid announced Tuesday that he will appoint former tourism minister Asaf Zamir to serve as Israel’s consul general in New York.

Zamir resigned from the previous government last October, saying he could no longer serve under then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, accusing him of placing his own political survival above the coronavirus crisis and the good of the nation.

The post in New York has been vacant for nearly a year, ever since Dani Dayan finished his five-year term. Israel Nitzan has served as acting consul general in the interim.

Zamir’s start date will be determined shortly, the Foreign Ministry said.

Zamir lived in the US as a child and had American citizenship, which he gave up upon entering politics. He served as deputy mayor of Tel Aviv from 2008 to 2018 and joined Benny Gantz’s Blue and White Party in 2019.

“After too long a period without a consul general in New York, I am happy to appoint Asaf Zamir,” Lapid said in a statement. “Asaf has the professional and interpersonal capabilities to represent the State of Israel with honor and pride.”

MK Asaf Zamir makes a surprise appearance in the Knesset on December 22, 2020 to vote against a coalition budget bill. (Knesset spokesman/Danny Shem Tov)

Thanking Lapid, Zamir said that during the current period, in which the new governments in Jerusalem and Washington are establishing their footing, the position of consul general in New York “entails a great opportunity and responsibility.”

“Strengthening Israel’s position, the bipartisan [nature of] relations and ties with the Jewish communities in the United States are important and complex challenges that have been brought to the forefront of the new government and I am happy and motivated to try and contribute to addressing them,” Zamir added.

On Sunday, Israel’s cabinet approved the appointment of 36 other ambassadors and consuls general whose postings had been held up by Netanyahu for over half a year.

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