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Israel’s Foreign Ministry ousts D.C. deputy chief

WASHINGTON (JTA) — Israel’s Foreign Ministry removed its Washington embassy’s deputy chief of mission, purportedly for leaking information to the media.

Dan Arbell, a veteran diplomat, was told to return to Israel this week, Israeli media reported, for leaking information to Haaretz in 2009. It was not clear if he was fired or would be reassigned in Jerusalem.

Also not clear was what Arbell allegedly leaked, although the period in which the leak occurred — the first half of 2009 — was when the new Obama and Netanyahu administrations were warily circling one another about the issue of settlement building and how best to isolate Iran. The embassy would not comment.

Arbell is well respected among Washington’s diplomatic, think-tank and journalists’ corps. He is noted for his ability to subtly explain Israel’s positions without repeating worn talking points.

Israeli media said his removal was part of an effort by the Foreign Ministry to reserve contact with the press to its political as opposed to professional wing.

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