The United Nations envoy to the Middle East, Terje Larsen, is at the center of a governmental disagreement this week over his recent comments sharply condemning Israel for the results of the Jenin battles. Prime Minister Ariel Sharon reportedly wants to declare the UN representative \"persona non grata\" in Israel, and Attorney-General Elyakim Rubenstein also had strong criticism of Larsen\'s one-sided position. He told cabinet ministers that he would look into the legal ramifications of bestowing the above description upon Larsen. Foreign Minister Shimon Peres, however, praises Larsen as having “made a special contribution to peace in our region for years.”

Journalist David Bedein sheds additional light on the relationship between the UN envoy and the Foreign Minister. Bedein\'s report, published in the Makor Rishon newspaper, reveals that Larsen and his wife, a Norwegian diplomat in Israel, received a total of $100,000 from the Peres Center for Peace in 1999 in recognition of their efforts for peace in the Middle East. This was the only such prize ever given by the Peres Center - and has raised some eyebrows, both journalistic and governmental.

Bedein told Arutz-7 today that the funds went to the Larsens\' private accounts, rather than to any project related to promoting peace in the Middle East. It is for this reason that the Interior Ministry’s Registrar of Non-Profit Associations questioned why the Peres Center for Peace, a research institution, would give prize money to acting diplomats in Israel. Although the Center has yet to reply to the registrar’s query, Ron Pundak, Director of the Peres Center and an Oslo Accords architect, told Maariv newspaper that the Larsens received the prize for their initiative and ongoing contribution to the Oslo process and to peaceful relations between Israel and her neighbors.

David Bedein noted that the backdrop to the current revelations is accusations leveled at Terje Larsen in Norway for financial improprieties while serving in the Norwegian government. Arutz-7\'s Haggai Segal noted wryly, “It can be said that while peace [shalom, in Hebrew] has not come out of the peace process Larsen initiated, it has certainly paid off [from the Hebrew root \"shalem\"] for him.”