- The Washington Times - Sunday, October 23, 2011


The dismissal of the deputy ambassador at the Israeli Embassy in Washington sent shock waves through Israel’s foreign service, as diplomats complain of a “sense of fear” and worry that their phones are tapped by their own government.

Daniel Arbell, the deputy chief of mission since late 2009, was “shocked” that Rafael Barak, director-general of the Israeli Foreign Ministry, sacked him after about 20 years in the Israeli diplomatic service, Foreign Ministry officials told Israeli newspapers.

Mr. Arbell was accused of leaking sensitive information about U.S.-Israeli talks over Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz in 2009.

“He feels like a man publicly stabbed in the city square,” one official told Haaretz, after Mr. Arbell was fired earlier this month.

Another official said Mr. Barak’s “conduct has raised a lot of anger.”

Other diplomats complained about Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

“Since Lieberman’s appointment, there’s a real sense of fear,” one official told Haaretz.

He said ministry officials often threaten diplomats with investigations by the Shin Bet intelligence service or with lie-detector tests to uncover officials suspected of talking to the press. Others said they assumed their phones are tapped, Haaretz reported.

Foreign Ministry officials are rallying behind Mr. Arbell, often described as a seasoned and effective Israeli diplomat.

“We … in the name of all Foreign Ministry employees in Israel and abroad would like to send Dan Arbell a message of solidarity, encouragement and support in his hour of need,” a committee that represents ministry workers said in a letter printed by Ynet, an Israeli news service.

Mr. Barak defended his actions, saying that Mr. Arbell violated Foreign Ministry rules by releasing “sensitive, confidential information.”

“The contact with the journalist was unauthorized and violated ministry directives,” he said.


Foreign visitors in Washington this week include:


• Prince Daniel of Sweden, who visits the Center for Strategic and International Studies and the Newseum. On Tuesday, he hosts a health summit at the Swedish Embassy with Swedish Health Minister Goran Hagglund.


• Prime Minister Salomon Lerner Ghitis of Peru, who addresses the Inter-American Dialogue.

• Health Minister Ferruccio Fazio of Italy and Enrico Garaci, president of the Italian National Institute of Health, who host an Italian Embassy symposium on obesity.

• Prince Turki al-Faisal, former Saudi ambassador to the United States and former director general of Saudi Arabias intelligence service, and Mansour Farhang, former Iranian ambassador to the United Nations. They address the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars on new historical records concerning the Iran-Iraq war in the 1980s.

• Garry Kasparov, founder of Russia’s United Civil Front and former World Chess champion. He addresses a Heritage Foundation seminar of U.S.-Russian relations.


• Eduardo Stein, former vice president and foreign minister of Guatemala, who discusses security issues in Central America in briefing at the Inter-American Dialogue.


• Prime Minister Petr Necas of the Czech Republic; Janis Mazeiks, director-general of the Latvian Foreign Ministry; Jerzy Pomianowski, undersecretary of state at the Polish Foreign Ministry; Fabrice Pothier, head of NATO’s Policy Planning Unit; Pierre Vimont, a former French ambassador to the United States and now executive secretary-general of the European Union’s foreign service. They address the annual EU-Washington Forum.

Call Embassy Row at 202/636-3297 or email jmorrison@washingtontimes.com. The column is published on Monday, Wednesday and Friday.

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