New ambassador will 'deepen' Israel ties


Britain's next ambassador to Israel will be a senior civil servant who previously advised Tony Blair, the Foreign Office announced this week.

David Quarrey is currently director of the department's Near East and North Africa desk. He will replace current envoy Matthew Gould in July.

Mr Gould has been in Tel Aviv since 2010 and was the first British Jewish diplomat to be appointed to the role.

Seen as one of the Foreign Office's leading experts on the Middle East, Mr Quarrey has regularly updated parliamentary committees on the region.

He was a senior figure behind the scenes last year when David Cameron visited Israel and spoke at the Knesset.

Although Mr Quarrey has not previously run an embassy, he has worked for the Foreign Office for more than 20 years, serving in British missions at the United Nations in New York, in New Delhi and in Harare.He said: "I am delighted to be appointed as British ambassador to Israel. It is a great privilege to have this opportunity to deepen our already thriving economic, science and technology ties with Israel, co-operate against shared security threats and work for progress towards peace."

One senior Jewish community leader, who has previously attended briefings with Mr Quarrey, said: "He is well-known to people in and around the Jewish community. He has been helpful and supportive in his position at the Foreign Office."

"He certainly has the expertise and insight to really follow in the footsteps of Matthew Gould."

Mr Quarrey visited Ramallah in May last year to lead the government's first-ever strategic dialogue with the Palestinian Authority. The initiative was aimed at boosting Britain's relationship with the Palestinians and focused on the peace process, state-building and human-rights issues.

Board of Deputies president Vivian Wineman said: "Matthew Gould will be a hard act to follow but I have every confidence that the knowledge and experience of David Quarrey from his previous posts will stand him in good stead as ties between the UK and Israel continue to strengthen."

A spokesman for the Israeli embassy said that Israeli-UK ties were stronger than ever. "We are delighted to continue building the bilateral relationship with newly appointed Ambassador Quarrey," he said.

Speaking at a Wizo UK fundraising dinner on Monday night, Mr Gould reflected on his five years as envoy. He said: "I have to tell you it will be very hard to go, very hard to leave the place where we started our family, the only place my girls have ever called home."

He praised the support of British Jewry, saying the community had "played a very special role".

"The Jewish community is an absolute pillar for the relationship between the two countries. For me, it is a golden thread between the UK and Israel; a thread made up of people who care about the relationship, and who contribute to that relationship."

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