A senior foreign ministry diplomat has not been seen at work for six weeks, reports Maariv, which says that the man, Diplomatic Planning Section Head Eran Etzion, was supposed to be appointed as deputy Israeli ambassador to the U.S., but is suspected of leaking sensitive information to the press.
"About a month and a half ago, Etzion surprisingly stopped showing up for work,” writes Maariv's Eli Berdenstein. “The employees, who did not understand where he had disappeared, received an unexplained message that said that the traditional farewell party that was supposed to be held for him before he went to Washington, had been postponed for personal reasons. To this day, he has not been seen at the office. He was supposed to go to the U.S. with his family this week, but his departure has been postponed and is in great doubt.”
Berdenstein says that a senior source in Jerusalem told him that the Shin Bet is delaying Etzion's appointment because he is suspected of “a serious leak” of sensitive information.
Etzion served as assistant to then-Foreign Ministry Director Uri Savir, during the Oslo accord period. Berdenstein hints that his views are left of center.
"No one at the office knows anything about this, not even Etzion's employees at the Planning Section,” an employee told Maariv. “No one is even telling us what is going on. The man has simply disappeared from the office as if the earth swallowed him up. This is really scary.”
The newspaper quotes Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor as saying the appointment of Etzion to his new post has been delayed "for personal reasons."
The incoming Israeli Ambassador to Washington, D.C., Ron Dermer, is set to replace Ambassador Michael Oren in the course of the next few weeks.