Mark Regev ends his four years and three months as Israel’s ambassador to the United Kingdom this week.
His departure coincides with Settlement Affairs Minister Tzipi Hotovely’s confirmation last week that she had accepted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer to be Israel’s next ambassador in London.
According to foreign ministry sources, Mr Regev’s departure had been planned in advance and was not connected to the new appointment.
A career diplomat for the past three decades, Mr Regev served in Beijing, Washington and Hong Kong before becoming the foreign ministry’s chief spokesperson in 2004. He was seconded to the prime minister’s office in 2007, to work as Ehud Olmert’s chief foreign media press officer, a position he retained when Mr Netanayhu became prime minister in 2009, becoming one of Israel’s most prominent spokespeople in the international media for over a decade.
One of the chief challenges Mr Regev faced during his term as ambassador in London was maintaining a relationship with the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership.
Mr Regev is the only Israeli official to have met Mr Corbyn, in July 2016, after the scheduled meeting was postponed multiple times by the leader of the opposition’s office. One of those present at the meeting said after “Mark did most of the talking, but I’m not sure Corbyn paid much attention.”
He was careful not to speak of Mr Corbyn in public but in 2018, at a Labour Friends of Israel reception, made a barely veiled reference to him when he said that “from Attlee, Wilson, Callaghan and Foot, to Kinnock, Blair and Brown; Labour leaders have supported Israel’s cause precisely because it is an anti-racist cause... when self-proclaimed anti-racists overlook this fundamental truth and claim that we Zionists do not know history, ironically it is they who have not studied history or learnt from it.”
Mr Regev’s new position has yet to be announced. His deputy Sharon Barli is to fill in as Chargee d’affaires until Ms Hotovely’s arrival, which is expected towards the end of the summer.