Photo: Emil Salman
Amos Gilad suspended as Israel's emissary to Egypt
Following clash with Prime Minister Olmert, head of Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau removed from his position as government's special delegate to Cairo. Gilad refuses to apologize, prompting Prime Minister's Office to files complaint against him with Civil Service Commission
Major General (Res.) Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Diplomatic-Security Bureau, has been suspended from his position as Israel's special emissary to Egypt following a heated clash with Prime Minister Ehud Olmert last week.
As a result, the talks with Cairo are being held through alternative channels, sources in the Prime Minister's Office said Sunday night. They added that the talks for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit have not been affected.
Gilad refused to apologize to Olmert over remarks he made to the media about the prime minister. As a result, the disconnect between the sides worsened, and the Prime Minister's Office filed a complaint against Gilad with the Civil Service Commission.
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Gilad is no longer invited to discussions on the talks with Egypt on a truce arrangement with Hamas, ways to halt the arms smuggling on the border and securing Shalit's release.
The clash erupted five days ago, when Gilad was quoted as harshly slamming the prime minister, after Olmert demanded that Shalit be released before Israel signs a truce agreement. Gilad claimed that Olmert had not engaged in the issue until that point and had suddenly changed his mind.
In remarks quoted by the Maariv daily, Gilad said that the prime minister's new stance damaged the Israel-Egypt relations and the chances to reach an agreement which would secure Shalit's release and bring about a ceasefire.
Olmert rebuked Gilad before the cabinet meeting last Wednesday. Gilad's refusal to apologize only worsened the conflict. The rift became wider after Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued a statement of support for Gilas and after Channel 2 reported of the complaint filed with the Civil Service Commission.
The defense minister's statement said that "the defense establishment believes we should focus on advancing Gilad Shalit's release and utilizing the achievements of Operation Cast Lead instead of intra-governmental disputes."
The statement went on to say that "Major General (Res.) Amos Gilad is a dedicated and outstanding civil servant who has contributed to the State's security for dozens of years and is known for his seriousness, responsibility and integrity.
"This is how he acted throughout the way, as well as with the handling of the relations with Egypt, during and after Operation Cast Lead, with the complete and continuous guidance of the narrow forum and the cabinet.
"It's a shame that in the last days of his government, the prime minister chose an extreme way of attacking and attempting to exercise the full rigor of the law with a dedicated and excellent civil servant."
Channel closedOlmert was asked by Ynet last week whether Gilad had been removed from his position as Israel's special emissary to Egypt. He replied, "I don't wish to refer to government workers and I have not referred to government workers in other frameworks.
"The things I have to say to government workers are said directly to them and to their bosses, and will be said in the required procedures against people who go beyond the limits of their authority."
Beyond the high tensions between Olmert and Barak, which were expressed in harsh remarks made by both sides, the heated clash, in essence, closes the channel managed by Gilad as the narrow forum's special delegate.
The talks with Egypt are now being held by the prime minister's men – diplomatic advisor Shalom Turgeman and Olmert's special delegate in charge of the talks for Gilad Shalit's release, Ofer Dekel.