Deputy Ambassador Dan Arbell's suspension was the result of a "serious blow to state security" and not for leaking material - a freedom of information issue - Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman said in an interview with Israel Radio on Wednesday.
It will take a lot of effort to repair damage done by the leak, he said. Lieberman also denied the veracity of reports claiming the information Arbell shared was already known to a journalist.
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Israel’s deputy ambassador to Washington, Arbell, was suspended on Tuesday
for allegedly leaking sensitive information to a Haaretz
reporter in 2009.
According to Lieberman, Arbell confessed to the leak during the investigation and accepted responsibility.
Lieberman also emphasized that the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) opens investigations because of security concerns, not because of ministers' political whims.
The foreign minister explained that there legal restrictions on government workers speaking to the media and that some people in sensitive positions are not allowed to speak to journalists at all.
That's why government departments have a spokesperson unit, he said.
According to Lieberman, the Arbell incident is now under investigation in cooperation with the attorney-general.
Lieberman also addressed the Trajtenberg Committee report
, saying that, "Trajtenberg's recommendations on housing for instance are not acceptable to us. Criteria for benefits shouldn't be number of years of marriage and number of children but whether they served in the army and if both parents are working."
"No one talked to [Israel Beiteinu] about the committee before
it was appointed or after the report was published," he complained. "We
asked to delay the meeting, because we hadn't gotten a chance to read
all of it."
"I told Netanyahu on Wednesday that this is not the way to handle things
and this was a blunder. We are not trying to debate the prime minister
or break up his coalition."
Lieberman refuted claims that he is seeking early election, saying that
"it is not in my interest to have an election before or after the
hearing but when the term ends in [October] 2013."