Israel's deputy ambassador to the United States, Dan Arbell, has been suspended following his admission to Shin Bet investigators he confirmed sensitive information for a reporter without authorization to do so in 2009.
Foreign Ministry Director General Rafael Barak said Wednesday he suspended Arbell earlier this week for allegedly "leaking information to a Haaretz reporter in 2009." Arblel will remain suspended pending the a disciplinary review.
Arbell, a widely respected and senior diplomat, is expected to return to Israel when the Shin Bet investigation is complete.
MK Nachman Shai (Kadima) called the suspension, "a clear process of silencing and intimidating on the Foreign Ministry workers," in a statement on Wednesday.
"The foreign minister and secretary-general need to realize that in the world of public diplomacy, where Israel fails again and again, we need to draw the media and its representatives closer to the ministry and its workers, and not push them away."
In 2009, the same case led to the suspension of then deputy director general of the Foreign Ministry, Alon Bar. Bar was subsequently cleared and now serves as Israel's ambassador to Spain.
The foreign ministry said the investigation into Arbell, which officials stress is incomplete, began prior to his appointment in Washington.