JERUSALEM (Jan. 19)
Israel’s Cabinet has reconfirmed its decision to appoint Itamar Rabinovich ambassador to the United States, and he is now expected to take up the post Feb. 5.
The Cabinet’s original appointment of Rabinovich, who currently heads Israel’s bilateral negotiations with Syria, was put in doubt when the Israeli news media reported that he had recently paid a voluntary indemnity to tax authorities for money earned in the United States several years ago.
The revelation prompted a Likud Knesset member to petition the High Court of Justice to invalidate the ambassadorial posting, on the grounds that the Cabinet did not know of Rabinovich’s tax problem when it originally approved the appointment.
The court last week issued a temporary injunction barring Rabinovich from taking up the post until it could consider the merits of Knesset member Gonen Segev’s petition.
But the court case now appears to be moot, since the Cabinet has again approved the appointment, this time with the knowledge of his tax problems.
The Cabinet on Sunday also confirmed Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin’s appointment of Elyakim Rubinstein as Cabinet secretary.
Rubinstein, who heads the Israeli team negotiating with Jordan and the Palestinians, served as Cabinet secretary under the previous government and was retained by Rabin for a temporary three-month term that was extended by a further three months.
Now his appointment has been made permanent.
An earlier move, backed by Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, to appoint Shlomo Ben-Ami as Cabinet secretary apparently fell through.
Ben-Ami, an academic expert on Spain, recently wound up a highly successful tour of duty as Israeli ambassador to that country.
Having lost the Cabinet post, he is now mentioned as a candidate for Foreign Ministry director-general, a post that falls vacant later this year with the expected retirement of incumbent Yosef Hadass.