David Quarrey (left) with former Libyan premier Ali Zeidan.

David Quarrey (left) with former Libyan premier Ali Zeidan.

The Foreign Office’s most senior adviser on Middle East policy has emerged as the front-runner to be the UK’s next ambassador to Israel, Jewish News understands, writes Justin Cohen.

David Quarrey is believed to be close to being appointed to succeed Matthew Gould when the latter leaves the post next year, according to communal sources.

Currently head of the FCO’s Middle East and North Africa department, Quarrey previously worked as private secretary to Tony Blair when Blair was prime minister and has also headed the UK Mission to the United Nations Security Council in New York.

One senior community source said Quarrey has a “reputation for being fair and balanced when it comes to the Middle East”. Another source said: “In his current role, he has gone out of his way to engage with communal leaders including at key moments like the Palestinian’s UN statehood bid.”

It’s unclear if others are being considered for the job. Gould, who took up the role in September 2010 and was due to return home this summer, announced last October that the Foreign Office had agreed to his request to remain in Israel for an extra year. Among Gould’s most notable achievements over the past four years has been the establishment of a hi-tech hub to encourage British-Israeli partnerships in digital, biomedical and cleantech – a model which is to be replicated by embassies around the globe.

Bilateral trade has also rocketed during his time in office, while a series of social clubs for Holocaust survivors in Israel have been opened following a fundraising drive launched in 2011 by Gould and Israel’s then-ambassador to the UK, Ron Prosor. Gould – whose two daughters were both born in Israel – told Jewish News following the extension of his tenure that he “hoped to continue to build the partnership between Britain and Israel across the full range of issues and to enjoy this amazing country and its people”.

He added: “We are very happy here – we have many Israeli friends, our children were born here, and we feel we are pursuing worthwhile and important goals. So to have another year here is a blessing.”