MOSCOW (Nov. 11)
Haim Bar-Lev, Israel’s new ambassador to Russia, was scheduled to arrive here Wednesday to replace the outgoing Arye Levin.
Levin, who took office in October 1991, had been Israel’s first envoy to Moscow since the former Soviet Union broke off relations in 1967.
Bar-Lev will bring better political contacts, but less Russian expertise, to the job, which has arguably become Israel’s second most important diplomatic post after Washington. He is one of 11 political appointments allowed to Foreign Minister Shimon Peres under an agreement with ministry staff.
The 68-year-old Bar-Lev is a career soldier who served as the Israel Defense Force chief of staff from 1968 to 1972, when the so-called “Bar-Lev Line” of defense was built along the Suez Canal.
He later was secretary-general of Israel’s Labor Party. He came to Palestine in 1939 from Yugoslavia.
Unlike Levin, who was born to Russian Jewish parents fleeing communism, Bar-Lev does not speak Russian. Over his four years here, beginning without diplomatic status in 1988, Levin, a career diplomat, built an extensive network of contacts in the Russian establishment.