CAIRO: Israel’s new nominee for ambassador to Egypt arrived in Cairo Monday to replace Israel’s former ambassador, who resigned at his term’s end last week.
Yitzhak Levanon, whose appointment has not yet been confirmed, previously served as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations and also directed the Israeli Foreign Ministry’s Arab Media Division.
Levanon, who is fluent in Arabic due to his Lebanese origins and often appears on Arab media representing the Israeli foreign ministry, replaces Shalom Cohen, whose term as ambassador to Egypt was extended twice in an attempt to find a suitable replacement.
Israeli Embassy spokesman Elie Antebi told Daily News Egypt, “He [Levanon] has been confirmed here in Egypt and he will have to meet the foreign minister in the next few days to give his credentials. Then he will wait to be received by the President, which takes place twice a year, and that’s when he is officially confirmed.
Levanon’s mandate will be to “enhance the relations on all levels, politically, economically and if possible on the level of cultural relations but for the time being it’s very difficult, he has a lot to do, Antebi said, “My impression was he was welcomed here and he is feeling well.
Israeli Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman had originally wanted to replace Cohen with Shaul Kamisa, an officer in the Israeli Reserve.
However, Kamisa’s nomination drew widespread criticism, partially because he did not speak Arabic and came from a military background rather than a diplomatic one.
However, Kamisa, who was being investigated for bribery offenses at the time of his nomination, was mainly criticized as being too personally close with Lieberman, and therefore unsuitable for Egyptian posting.
Lieberman has been highly critical of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, notably saying Mubarak could “go to hell due to his lack of official visits to Israel.
Lieberman also suggested Egypt was planning a surprise attack against Israel similar to the one at the start of the 1973 War.
“Egypt is just waiting to deploy its army in Sinai in violation of the peace agreement, Lieberman told the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, in a November 2008 interview.
Levanon, Lieberman’s new nominee, was born in Lebanon in 1944. He is the son of a spy nearly executed by the Lebanese government.
In 1961, Lebanese police arrested Levanon’s mother, Shula Cohen, charging her with being an undercover agent of the Israeli spy agency Mossad.
Cohen was found guilty and sentenced to death. However, she was released in 1967, as part of a prisoner exchange following the Six Day War.
Levanon has worked for the Israeli foreign ministry in a variety of capacities.
In his time at the UN, he was a prominent opponent of the UN’s Goldstone Report on Israel’s military actions in Gaza. The Report accused Israel of committing war crimes during “Operation: Cast Lead, in December 2008 and January 2009.
“Israel rejects the Goldstone Report as biased, Levanon said in an October, 2009, interview. “Goldstone treated each side differently. He didn’t listen to the position of Israeli officials and . [residents’] testimony.
“Israeli investigates all accusations of violent misconduct it receives, he said.