Ben-elissar to Resign As Israel’s Envoy to Egypt to Run for Knesset; Sasson Expected to Replace Him

– Israel will appoint a new Ambassador to Egypt shortly when incumbent Eliahu Ben-Elissar resigns to run for a Knesset seat. The new envoy to Cairo is expected to be Moshe Sasson, a veteran diplomat who has served previous Labor governments as well as the present Likud regime.

Foreign Ministry spokesman Naftalie Lavie told reporters today that while no official decision has been made, Sasson was considered within the Ministry to be eminently qualified to serve as Ambassador to Egypt. Foreign Minister Yitzhak Shamir is reported to have decided unofficially to appoint him.

LONG INVOLVED IN INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS

Sasson, 55, currently holds the rank of Special Ambassador with responsibility for the Foreign Ministry’s two European Affairs divisions. He served earlier as Israel’s Ambassador to Turkey and to Italy and is one of Israel’s leading experts on Arab affairs.

He was advisor to the Prime Minister on West Bank affairs for three years after the Six-Day War, in which capacity he conducted extensive negotiations with local Arab leaders in that territory. In December, 1973, while Ambassador in Rome, Sasson was summoned by the then Foreign Minister Abba Eban to join the Israeli delegation to the short-lived Geneva Middle East peace conference.

He is a son of the late Eliahu Sasson, who was a leading diplomat in the pre-State period and conducted secret talks with Arab leaders in the 1940s. Later he served as a Minister in Labor governments.

Ben-Elissar, the first Israeli Ambassador to an Arab country, was a protege of Premier Menachem Begin and Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office until posted to Cairo. He failed to win a Knesset seat in the 1977 elections but is considered certain to place high on the Herut slate in the elections this spring.

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