Amos Gilad (pictured on left), Israel's top diplomat to the Egyptian-sponsored peace talks with Hamas, will be replaced by outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert after Gilad publicly criticised the government's negotiating strategy.
REUTERS - Outgoing Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will replace Israel's pointman to Egyptian-brokered truce talks with Hamas after the envoy publicly criticised the government's negotiating strategy, officials said on Monday.
Amos Gilad, an aide to Defence Minister Ehud Barak, has shuttled to Cairo to try to consolidate the Jan. 18 ceasefire that ended a three-week Israeli assault in Hamas-ruled Gaza.
Maariv newspaper quoted Gilad on Feb. 18 as saying the Olmert government had an inconsistent approach to the talks that was "insulting" to the Egyptians. Gilad pointed to Olmert's demand that Hamas agree to free a captive Israeli soldier before Israel eases a blockade on Gaza, as demanded by the Islamists.
Olmert's office said he no longer had confidence in Gilad and would pursue the Egypt talks through a different envoy.
"The straw that broke the camel's back was the public interview last week for Maariv," one official said. "It was totally unprofessional and unseemly for a civil servant to publicly attack his boss."
"The Prime Minister's Office will of course be continuing the contacts with the Egyptians. We expect those contacts to resume shortly."
The Defence Ministry had no immediate comment on the Gilad fracas, which underscored long-running tensions between Olmert and Barak, his junior partner in a coalition government.
The government has been functioning in a caretaker capacity since a Feb. 10 election to choose Olmert's successor. The prime minister has pledged to exert all efforts to return of Gilad Shalit, the soldier abducted by Palestinians to Gaza in 2006.
Date created : 2009-02-23