After MK Shelly Yachimovich lodged complaint that Israel’s foreign minister held unreported meetings on previous European trip, the State Comptroller’s inquiry concluded the ‘secret’ meetings would have been approved.
By Aviel Magnezi
The State Comptroller has concluded that Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman’s secret trip to Vienna was justified, after former Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich complained the Lieberman conduct secret meetings that were not reported to the media during the September visit.
In the report sent to Lieberman by the State Comptroller retired judge Yoseph Shapira, who sent Lieberman the report before its publication in order to get his comments, states that after an inquiry by the State Comptroller’s office and after a meeting conducted with Lieberman, Shapira and the senior advisor to the State Comptroller on special matters were “convinced by the words of the minister and accepted them.”
The inquiry began after MK Yachimovich approached the State Comptroller and complained about the secret trip to Vienna, which took place during a trip that included stops that were reported by the media in the US and Lithuania.
Publications claimed that during his visit in Vienna, Lieberman met with the President of the Republika Srpska, one of two entities in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and with the Austrian Foreign Minister – neither of which were reported to the media or to the Foreign Ministry.
The Foreign Ministers Office said that there were more meetings that took place in Vienna that were politically sensitive and therefore they were not reported.
After a meeting between the State Comptroller, his advisor and Lieberman, in which Lieberman gave the State Comptroller more details surrounding the Vienna meetings, the State Comptroller was satisfied with the Foreign Ministers response and affirmed the need to keep the meetings secret.
The State Comptroller wrote in the report: “From time to time Ministers may be required to hold secret meetings regarding state or security issues. It is fitting that a minister who would like to conduct secret meetings be required to pass on information of such to the government secretariat when he submits an approval for the trip. Secret and sensitive meetings should be considered ‘special cases,’ which justify the application of approval to be approved solely by the Prime Minister.”
Former judge Shapira also suggested that the government secretariat create a fitting arrangement for secret meetings which cannot be made public because of security considerations, fear of harming foreign relations or other similar situations to be reported.
The State Comptroller also examined other trips made by Lieberman to Vienna and conducted a comprehensive investigation, which included gathering relevant paperwork and meetings with Foreign Ministry workers, Justice Ministry workers and the government secretariat.
The State Comptroller wrote in the report that the investigation found that the requests that were transferred by the Foreign Minister to the government secretariat for foreign visits were brief and that the Foreign Ministry should be more careful to include detailed descriptions for official trips – but he did not find any substantial problems with Lieberman’s trips to Vienna.
View original Ynet publication at: http://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-4608106,00.html