JERUSALEM – Israel’s Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon, who served as ambassador to the U.S. from 2002 to 2006, has been dropped from nationalist party Yisrael Beiteinu’s slate of candidates for the upcoming election, Israeli media reported Tuesday.
The surprise move could leave the Israeli diplomat without his Knesset seat, which he won in 2009.
The decision to drop Ayalon was apparently made by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who as head of the party determines its candidate list for the Jan. 22 election.
No reason was given for removing Ayalon, who had been seen as a confidante of Lieberman. Because of his experience as an Israeli envoy, Ayalon was at times more welcomed in international diplomatic circles than Lieberman, whose brash style and controversial comments ruffled feathers.
But Ayalon could also be abrasive at times. In one widely publicized incident, Ayalon publicly embarrassed the Turkish ambassador during a photo session by seating him on a lower sofa and drawing attention to the man's lower position to watching journalists. Ayalon later apologized for any personal slight he might have caused.