Turf war between Mossad and Israel’s Foreign Ministry worsens

Avigdor LiebermanAvigdor Lieberman


Israel’s foreign affairs minister has ordered his department’s employees to stop cooperating with the Mossad, according to media reports. Minister Avigdor Lieberman, one of Israel’s most hardline nationalist politicians, accuses the country’s covert operations agency of meddling in the tasks of Israel’s diplomatic community, while at the same time refusing to share its intelligence output with foreign affairs officials. According to The Washington Times, which cites the Hebrew-language edition of reputable Israeli newspaper Yediot Achronot, Mr. Lieberman’s decision was prompted by the Israeli Prime Minister’s move to entrust the country’s relations with Turkey to a Mossad official. Media reports state that the spy agency’s David Meidan has been dispatched by Benjamin Netanyahu to Turkey, in order to patch up the Jewish state’s anemic relationship with its once close regional ally. This has enraged the foreign affairs ministry’s leadership, which was already upset over salary discrepancies between diplomats and Mossad spies, as well as the latter’s chronic refusal to share intelligence with foreign policy planners. The friction between the Mossad and Israel’s diplomatic community goes back decades, but Lieberman’s controversial ascendance to Foreign Affairs Minister in 2009 intensified the turf war. At the beginning, Lieberman made calculated friendly gestures toward the Mossad, in one instance going as far as appointing a former Mossad official as Israel’s first-ever ambassador to Turkmenistan. But such moves quickly gave way to direct bureaucratic confrontations, which included direct strikebreaking action by Mossad officers, who assumed the duties of Foreign Affairs officials when the latter went on strike demanding better pay and work conditions. The Washington Times states that the practical effect of the near-complete breakdown in relations between the Mossad and the Foreign Affairs ministry is “not immediately clear”. It notes, however, that the Ministry provides essential support to the spy agency’s operations abroad, including travel documentation, office space, and cash payments through diplomatic pouches.

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