- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 6, 2012

As Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon developed a strong friendship with President George W. Bush and personally arranged a multibillion-dollar U.S. loan package that allowed the Jewish state to raise foreign funds at low interest rates.

He developed deep contacts with Jewish-Americans and members of Congress.

Mr. Ayalon was one of Israel’s most effective ambassadors when he served in Washington from 2002 to 2006. He retired from the foreign service after ending his diplomatic tour in the United States, and won a seat in the Israeli parliament in 2009 as a member of the Israel Beiteinu party.

The party leader, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, named him his deputy that same year.

However, Mr. Ayalon’s fast-rising political career crashed unceremoniously this week, when Mr. Lieberman dumped him from the party list of candidates for the Jan. 22 parliamentary elections.

Mr. Lieberman offered no explanation for removing Mr. Ayalon as he read the names of the party’s candidates in parliament on Tuesday.

Mr. Ayalon said Mr. Lieberman informed him earlier in the day that he was being dropped from the party list, and he later issued a simple statement on his Facebook page.

“I will continue to work tirelessly until the end of my mandate,” Mr. Ayalon said.

The Israeli press is full of speculation over the reasons Mr. Lieberman dumped Mr. Ayalon, but most analysts agreed that the foreign minister had been growing impatient with his deputy for seeking the limelight in the press.

Mr. Lieberman suspected Mr. Ayalon of an “unforgivable sin – serial leaks to diplomatic reporters,” said Yossi Verter in the Israeli newspaper Haaretz.

Mr. Ayalon also may have damaged his reputation in a diplomatic flap in 2010, when as deputy foreign minister, he publicly embarrassed Turkey’s ambassador to Israel, Ahmet Oguz Celikkol.

Mr. Ayalon summoned Mr. Celikkol to the Foreign Ministry to complain about an anti-Semitic Turkish television program that portrayed Israeli secret service agents killing elderly Turkish men and kidnapping a Muslim baby to convert to Judaism.

In the meeting, Mr. Ayalon refused to display the Turkish flag – a normal diplomatic courtesy – and pointed out to reporters that he sat Mr. Celikkol on a low sofa, which was widely seen as a display of Mr. Ayalon’s contempt for the Turkish diplomat.

He later apologized to Mr. Celikkol for the insult.

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