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US Blocking Visa for Netanyahu’s Security Advisor

The United States has blocked a visa for the man expected to be Netanyahu’s top security advisor, a move that could veto the nomination.
By Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu
First Publish: 3/18/2009, 1:00 PM / Last Update: 3/18/2009, 1:55 PM

Israel News Photo: NATO

United States officials have denied a visa to Dr. Uzi Arad, a security expert who is Prime Minister-designate Binyamin Netanyahu’s choice to be national security advisor, according to the Washington Times. He is suspected by the Americans of being an intelligence risk, and his attempts to obtain a visa have failed for nearly two years.

Dr. Arad confirmed the report but told The Times, “The director-general of the Israel Foreign Ministry did tell his American counterparts that there has been no cause to deny me a visa.” Lack of a visa would prevent him from visiting American officials on top security issues, making it difficult for him to serve as the Prime Minister-designate’s advisor.

Dr. Arad worked for the Mossad intelligence agency for more than 20 years and advised Netanyahu after he retired in 1997. He has been an opponent to the U.S. invasion of Iraq and also was against the Israeli abandonment of the Gaza region nearly four years ago.

The main problem for American immigration authorities is that Arad was implicitly named by Larry Franklin, a former Pentagon analyst who pleaded guilty in 2005 to providing classified information about Iran to American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) representatives.
  
The indictment against Franklin mentioned “a person previously associated with an intelligence agency of [foreign official's] country,” The Times reported, adding that both Israeli and American officials have confirmed the reference is to Dr. Arad, who met with Franklin in 2004 at the Pentagon cafeteria.

Uriel Reichman, the president of the Interdisciplinary Center at Herzliya, recommended to American officials in 2007 that a visa be granted to Arad. Referring to suspected espionage issues, he wrote that is “absolutely certain to me and to all who know him, that none of the causes specified ... apply to him."

Dr. Arad told Israel National News that the source of the problem is a technicality." A senior aide to Prime Minister-designate Netanyahu told The Times that he expects officials to grant a visa for official matters.