JERUSALEM - Foreign Minister Silvan Shalom has reportedly decided to dismiss Danny Ayalon from the post of ambassador to the United States, against a backdrop of mounting tensions between the two figures.
“The minister lost his faith in the ambassador and is expected to end his term immediately after the investigation taking place in Washington is completed,” a source close to Shalom said.
Notably, the investigation into the conduct of Ayalon’s wife and her treatment of embassy employees was launched following a Yedioth Ahronot investigative report.
Tensions between Shalom and Ayalon reached new heights after the ambassador turned to Attorney General Menachem Mazuz and claimed that the foreign minister’s wife intervened in Foreign Ministry appointments.
Specifically, Ayalon claimed Judy Shalom-Nir-Mozes demanded that the ambassador’s aide be dismissed for failing to arrange a meeting between her and pop star Madonna.
Moreover, Ayalon apparently possesses tapes proving that the foreign minister’s wife was indeed meddled in appointments, according to a Yedioth Ahronoth story published Monday.
Will Sharon approve?
Among those apparently recorded by Ayalon is Foreign Ministry Director-General Ron Prosor, who on Sunday flatly denied that Shalom’s wife intervened in appointments.
Foreign Ministry officials reportedly feel that Ayalon, known to be closely associated with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, acts mostly vis-à-vis the Prime Minister’s Office as opposed to his direct boss, the foreign minister.
Meanwhile, Ayalon’s close associates said his dismissal cannot go ahead without the consent of Sharon, who made the appointment.
However, Shalom’s associates say the decision to dismiss the ambassador is well within the foreign minister’s authority.
Ayalon is slated to end his three-year term in August, and Sharon’s associates said the prime minister would not back his dismissal before that date. Other sources at the Prime Minister’s Office, meanwhile, said Sharon would like to see Ayalon’s term extended beyond the original three years term.