Meir Rosenne, former top diplomat, dies at 84

Romanian-born legal expert was ambassador to France and US, played key role in talks that led to peace treaty with Egypt

Raphael Ahren is a former diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Meir Rosenne (photo credit: screen grab YouTube)
Meir Rosenne (photo credit: screen grab YouTube)

Meir Rosenne, a senior diplomat and prominent lawyer who played a key role in the peace deal with Egypt, died Tuesday aged 84.

Rosenne was a former legal adviser to the Foreign Ministry and ambassador to the United States and France.

Born in Romania, Rosenne immigrated to the British Mandate of Palestine in 1944. After studying law at the Sorbonne in Paris, he joined Israel’s foreign service in 1953. Between 1961 and 1967 he served as consul in New York.

Four years later, he became the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor. In this position, which he held for eight years, he played an important role in the negotiations that led to the Camp David Accords and the peace agreement with Egypt. He also participated in Israeli-Syrian negotiations.

Rosenne — who spoke fluent French — served as ambassador to Paris from 1979 to 1983, when he was nominated to become ambassador in Washington. His predecessor, defense minister Moshe Arens, initially disapproved the appointment, but prime minister Menachem Begin convinced Arens to withdraw his objections and the choice was eventually approved without a vote in the cabinet, the Associated Press reported at the time.

“He was a very well-trained successful diplomat. I can tell only tell positive things about him,” said Eliezer Palmor, a former Israeli ambassador to Uruguay and UNESCO in Paris and a close personal friend of Rosenne’s.

Palmor recalled how, as a young diplomat in Brussels, he once invited Rosenne, who at the time served as legal advisor to Israel’s Atomic Energy Commission, to deliver a series of talks. “He was a good speaker and gave very successful lectures. Between two lectures I took him to Waterloo. My wife took a photo of him in which he looked exactly like Napoleon,” he said.

After Rosenne retired from Israel’s diplomatic service in 1987, Rosenne served as president of the Israeli Bonds Organization. In 2000, he was made a commander of the French National Order of the Legion d’Honneur.

He was a partner in Balter, Guth, Aloni & Co., one of Israel’s largest law firms, and taught international law at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

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