TEL AVIV (Jun. 18)
A plot to assassinate Israeli President Chaim Herzog during his visit to Budapest last weekend was foiled by Hungarian and Israeli security agents, according to a report in the Budapest newspaper Mai Nap (Today) which quoted unofficial sources.
Israeli diplomats and members of the presidential party disclaimed any knowledge of a plot.
But Israel Radio seemed to corroborate the Hungarian newspaper’s story that a band of international terrorists was rounded up in Budapest coincidental with the president’s visit and that security surrounding the president was extraordinarily tight.
Herzog arrived in Sofia, Bulgaria, on Monday on the second leg of his East-European trip.
Nissan Limor, director general of the President’s office, who is accompanying Herzog, told Israel Radio that “as far as the president is concerned, nothing happened. He continued his trip and is carrying on with his planned visits.”
The Budapest newspaper said the Hungarian and Israeli security services were tipped off to a possible plot.
Several men and one woman who booked rooms at the Intercontinental Hotel in Budapest were arrested as soon as they checked in, after they were found to be high on the most-wanted list of international terrorists, according to the newspaper.
Herzog moved into the hotel Friday from the government guest house where he had been staying in order to be within walking distance of a synagogue for Sabbath services.
Israel Radio said the Hungarian authorities became suspicious when a Libyan national on the wanted list registered at the hotel and booked four more rooms for companions. When security agents began to investigate, the Libyan disappeared, the report said.
Herzog was unaware anything was amiss until he tried to leave the hotel Saturday night for a stroll, Israel Radio said. He was surrounded by Hungarian secret service men, who hustled him back inside.
In reply to his questions, the operatives told Herzog they were on high alert because of a plot on his life.
When the president and his party took a boat ride on the Danube the next day, their launch was surrounded by police boats, helicopters hovered overhead and frogmen stood ready to leap into the water to inspect the underside of the boat’s hull, Israel Radio reported.