FM: Senior Diplomat's Suspension Apolitical

Foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman rejected charges he is seeking to silence diplomats; says suspension of Dan Arbell apolitical.

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Gabe Kahn.,

Foreign Minister Lieberman (file)
Foreign Minister Lieberman (file)
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman on Thursday weighed in on the suspension of widely-respected senior diplomat Dan Arbell saying the decision was wholly apolitical.

It was announced Wednesday that Arbell, Israel's deputy ambassador to the United States, had been suspended for leaking sensitive information to a Haaretz reporter in 2009.

The suspension sparked sharp criticism from MK Nachman Shai (Kadima), who said foreign ministry officials were trying to intimidate diplomats in order to curtail public accountability and transparency.

"There is a difference between the public's right to know and security anarchy," Lieberman told Channel 2 Radio. "It took great effort to repair the damage caused by that leak."

Lieberman also rejected the assertion the information Arbell leaked had already been cleared by security officials for public distribution, saying it was a "false characterization."

According to Lieberman, Arbell had already confirmed he was the source of the leak to investigators, stressing the General Security Service was only interested in maintaining security and was not seeking to satisfy the political whims of ministers.

Asked about the Trajtenberg Report, Lieberman said that his party was not consulted before the committee was established, saying he "learned from the media Trachtenberg recommendations will be brought to a vote in the government."

Leiberman stressed, despite his opposition to many of the reports findings, that he does not want confrontation with the Prime Minister adding the last thing Israel needs amid regional turmoil and the current impasse with PA officials is elections.