(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Fiamma Nirenstein, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s choice as ambassador to Italy, withdrew her candidacy on Tuesday citing “personal reasons.”
In an email to journalists, Nirenstein, a former Italian journalist and parliamentarian who made aliya in 2013, said she had informed Netanyahu of her decision.
“I thank the prime minister for the confidence he placed in me,” she said, adding that she will continue to contribute to Israel as much as possible.
The surprise announcement came three weeks after the offices of both Netanyahu and Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi denied that the Italian premier discreetly asked Netanyahu to reconsider the appointment of Nirenstein as Israel’s next envoy to Rome, as claimed in a Haaretz report.
Haaretz also reported shortly thereafter that in an article in the Italian press in 1996, during Netanyahu’s first term in office, Nirenstein wrote unflatteringly about Sara Netanyahu, describing her once as a “monster dressed up as a first lady.”
A senior official in the Prime Minister’s Office said there is “no truth whatsoever to the suggestion that Prime Minister Netanyahu withdrew his support for her candidacy.”
Nirenstein “withdrew completely for personal reasons,” he said. “No message was received from Prime Minister Renzi asking to drop her candidacy.”
Netanyahu appointed Nirenstein last August, and her appointment was recently approved by the Civil Service Commission.
Haaretz reported last month that opposition to her appointment in Italy stemmed from a concern about conflicts of interests – that she would continue to receive a salary as a former Italian parliamentarian even while serving as Israel’s’ ambassador; that as former vice president of Italy’s foreign affairs committee she was exposed to state secrets; and that her son has a job in the Italian intelligence services.
Shin Bet: Hamas digging more tunnels, wants next round of fighting in Israeli territory • Jerusalem Post staff Hamas is continuing to dig attack tunnels and is closely following Israel’s efforts to uncover such tunnels, the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) has gleaned from the interrogation of an operative from the group’s military branch.
The Shin Bet announced on Tuesday that it arrested a minor who was enlisted into the ranks of Hamas prior to summer 2014’s Operation Protective Edge and was active in the organization’s efforts to dig tunnels to infiltrate into Israeli territory.
News of the arrest comes after the IDF uncovered two Hamas attack tunnels entering into Israeli territory in the past month.
Another Hamas operative involved in the organization’s tunnel enterprise was also recently arrested and shed light on the group’s efforts to dig into Israel.
The teen, whose arrest was announced on Tuesday, hails from the Jabalya refugee camp in Gaza, and was arrested last month attempting to cross the border fence into Israel.
He belonged to the northern division of the Kassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing. According to the Shin Bet, the suspect said during his interrogation that he was trained to infiltrate, enter structures and place explosive devices, in keeping with Hamas’s strategy of ensuring that the next round of fighting will take place in Israeli territory.
The suspect divulged information on the structure of Hamas tunnels intended to be used by the group’s elite tunnel unit in times of emergency, and the location of tunnels in Gaza, the Shin Bet stated.
He also allegedly told his interrogators about Hamas’s efforts to keep their tunnel- digging activities secret, such as avoiding leaving the tunnels in their dirt-covered “work clothes,” and covering up any signs that they had been in a tunnel.
The suspect took part in placing explosive devices in tunnels to prevent IDF soldiers from entering them and even stored explosives at his home, the Shin Bet said.
The Israeli security agency said that the suspect is one of many being interrogated who is providing intelligence on Hamas’s tunneling efforts.
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