CHRIS Cannan, a senior officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), will become Australia’s ambassador to Israel when Dave Sharma’s tenure comes to an end in June.
Cannan, from Adelaide, started his career working for former South Australian senator and federal minister Amanda Vanstone before he moved to DFAT. Vanstone has described him as “smart”, a “very clear thinker” and “someone who would get the job done”.
He has held various DFAT titles, including Chief of Protocol, and Assistant Secretary, Staffing Branch, Environment Branch, and Northern, Southern and Eastern Europe Branch and, most recently, Assistant Secretary, Global Development Branch.
He has also worked for DFAT overseas in Vienna and Manila.
Other roles include working with the Bougainville Peace Monitoring Group, as well as with the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, TB and Malaria in Geneva.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) welcomed Cannan’s appointment.
“As a highly regarded senior career officer with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Mr Cannan appears eminently qualified to take the post. We wish him every success,” ECAJ said in a statement.
“We look forward to working with Mr Cannan and his team and offering our support in any way necessary to help advance the interests of Australia and the Australia–Israel relationship for the benefit of both nations.”
ECAJ also paid tribute to the outgoing ambassador, who they said served Australia with great distinction.
“The Australia–Israel relationship has been enriched by a long line of wonderful ambassadors to Israel but it is difficult to recall someone with the passion, energy, warmth and deep insight of Ambassador Sharma.
“He will long be remembered with affection in Israel and in the Australian Jewish community for his tireless and successful efforts to broaden and deepen the bonds between Australia and Israel.
“He will be sorely missed.”
Cannan’s appointment was announced by Foreign Minister Julie Bishop last week, who said that Australia and Israel’s warm relationship is underpinned by shared values, a mutual commitment to democracy, and common interests in a stable Middle East.
Bishop also thanked Sharma, saying he made an “outstanding contribution to advancing the Australia–Israel relationship since 2013”.
Sharma announced on Twitter that his time in Israel will come to an end soon.
“From mid-June, Chris Cannan takes over as ambassador. Please make him feel welcome,” he said.