Minister pulls candidacy for Egypt ambassadorship, citing attacks on him

Ayoub Kara says he’s fed up with claims he is unsuitable to be envoy in Cairo, despite Netanyahu reportedly liking him for job

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara at a press conference in the northern city of Safed, July 10, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)
Communications Minister Ayoub Kara at a press conference in the northern city of Safed, July 10, 2018. (David Cohen/Flash90)

Communications Minister Ayoub Kara on Sunday announced that he was withdrawing his candidacy to become Israel’s ambassador to Egypt in the face of strong opposition from within the diplomatic corps to his appointment.

Media reports at the beginning of the month that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was considering Kara, who has a history of diplomatic fumbles, for the post of envoy in Cairo prompted protests from serving and former diplomats.

“I have decided to withdraw my candidacy for the position of ambassador to Egypt,” Kara tweeted. “The attacks on me and the slander that I am not suitable for it and the delays due to political games… led to an end to this saga as far as I am concerned.”

Diplomatic staff made public appeals to the government to install Amira Oron, a professional diplomat who last fall was tapped to be the ambassador in Cairo, instead of Kara.

Earlier this month nine former Israeli ambassadors to Egypt wrote a letter to Netanyahu, urging him to refrain from appointing Kara. Days before, Foreign Ministry staffers sent a letter to Foreign Minister Israel Katz urging him to push on behalf of Oron, the Haaretz daily reported at the time. Two days earlier, a group of more than a dozen former ambassadors called on the government to quickly approve Oron’s appointment.

Kara, 64, a lawyer and Druze politician from the Galilee town of Daliat el-Carmel, has been a staunch supporter of the premier, but failed to win a high enough spot on the party’s slate in the April 9 elections to enter the current Knesset.

He has no diplomatic experience, but has been active in efforts to improve Israel’s relationship with some communities in Middle Eastern Arab countries.

Amira Oron (Screenshot via Channel 10)

Oron, who was expected to take over the ambassadorship in Cairo this summer, previously served in the Egyptian capital and headed the Foreign Ministry’s Egypt division.

She was chosen by the committee in October, but the government has not yet convened to approve the appointment. Current ambassador David Govrin is slated to end his term in the coming months.

Over the years, Kara has been active in interfaith activities and in improving Israeli relations with many countries, including Turkey and Austria, as well as with Druze communities in Lebanon and Syria and Iraqi Kurds.

However, he has also been involved in a series of sometimes bizarre diplomatic snafus.

Last year he was detained at the Dubai airport and missed his flight after apparently failing to heed instructions from airport officials.

In 2017, Morocco issued a rare official complaint to Israel after Kara posed for a picture with the prime minister of the breakaway Sahrawi Republic of southern Morocco.

In November 2016, Kara posted to his Facebook page details of a security-related incident involving the Jewish state, all elements of which are still under a gag order. The post was quickly taken down, but not before journalists and others saw the information.

A month earlier, Kara drew condemnation from the Foreign Ministry when, during a visit to Italy, he suggested that powerful earthquakes in that country were divine retribution for anti-Israel actions in the United Nations.

A staunch Netanyahu loyalist, he nonetheless lost the prime minister’s backing before the Likud party primaries in February, for reasons that remain unclear.

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