The Israeli ambassador in Washington accused Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom and his wife of trying to get his assistant fired.
Why? Because Judy Shalom Nir Mozes was upset that she didn’t meet Madonna when the pop star-turned-kaballah fan visited Israel.
However, sources close to Shalom say that the timing of the complaint is meant to draw fire from the negative publicity Ambassador Danny Ayalon’s wife received in April in the weekend section of Yedioth Ahranoth.
Whatever the case, the complaint against Shalom and his wife has made its way to the offices of Attorney-General Manny Mazuz.
From Hollywood to Jerusalem
Behind the nasty tiff is a power struggle between the Foreign Ministry and the embassy in Washington, which is felt to be beholden to Dov Weisglass, the prime minister’s legal advisor.
Sources close to Ayalon said that Shalom Nir Mozes was furious that ambassador’s assistant could not arrange a meeting for her with Madonna.
Foreign ministry sources told Ynetnews that the “head of human resources in the foreign ministry telephoned the embassy almost two weeks ago in order to have the assistant, Liron Peterzil, fired. The embassy asked for a written request and was refused.”
Ayalon viewed Peterzil as a talented and hard worker and refused to fire him. Even sources in the Foreign Ministry expressed surprise that the minister would make such a request and justify it as a cost-cutting measure.
When stymied by Ayalon, the Foreign Ministry tried to get Deputy Ambassador Rafi Barak to fire Peterzil behind Ayalon’s back, but the former said that he was not authorized to do so.
Last week, the Foreign Ministry told the ambassador that he lost his budget for an assistant, and that is when Ayalon turned to the attorney-general.
Complaint dismissed as a smokescreen
The Foreign Ministry told Ynetnews: “Peterzil is a local employee working abroad since 2001. His contract ends in 2004. According to regulations, all contract renewals after three years require special permission.”
Senior sources in the Foreign Ministry said the accusations made by the ambassador were “ridiculous and absurd” and meant to distract attention from a diplomatic administrative review of the embassy in Washington.
Stemming from a report in Yedioth Ahranoth, the investigation is looking into whether the ambassador’s wife treated embassy workers as her personal servants.
Among the accusations leveled at Ayalon’s wife was that she called workers “retarded” and complained that another employee “was always pregnant.”
-- Doron Sheffer contributed to this report