Deputy minister's aide rapped for acting as 'official envoy'
The bureau chief of the deputy minister for the Development of the Negev and Galilee has been harshly reprimanded for apparently presenting himself as an official Israeli envoy working on cooperation with Syrian dissidents.
Deputy Minister Ayoob Kara's bureau chief, Mandi Safadi, was criticized in a cable sent this week by Israel's ambassador to Bulgaria, Shaul Kamisa-Raz, to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem.
In his cable, Kamisa-Raz said that, earlier this month the Israeli Embassy in Bulgaria received a phone call from a reporter from The Standard, the second largest newspaper in Bulgaria. The reporter told the embassy press officer he had conducted an interview with Safadi, who had presented himself as an official Israeli envoy working on cooperation with the Syrian opposition.
Kamisa-Raz wrote in his cable that embassy staff prevented publication of the interview, and that he told the newspaper that Safadi "was working solely on his own and without any coordination with the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem or with the embassy."
Kamisa-Raz also reported that Safadi had showed up at the home of the bus driver who was killed in the terror attack in Burgas last month and introduced himself to the man's family as an official representative of the Israeli government.
According to a Foreign Ministry source, when Kamisa-Raz's cable reached Avigdor Lieberman, the foreign minister reacted angrily, briefed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and demanded that he reprimand Kara. Netanyahu reprimanded Kara and stressed that he must avoid such conduct in the future.
A press release issued by Kara's office prior to Safadi's trip stated that the bureau chief was to meet with Syrian opposition figures in Kara's stead. However, Kara told Haaretz this week: "My aide was invited by the Bulgarian parliament for a discussion of the Syrian issue and met with persons who cannot be spoken about publicly." He added: "I am not a party to this at all and it was not done on my behalf."
Safadi also said his trip was conducted at the behest of an unnamed government body. "There are things the ambassador doesn't know," Safadi said. "There are also things I do that Deputy Minister Kara doesn't know about, which I can't expand on in the media."
Safadi also said that, contrary to the ambassador's claim, he had informed the Foreign Ministry about his trip and also briefed Deputy Foreign Minister Daniel Ayalon about his talks upon his return to Israel.