Friday, September 11, 2009

Netanyahu aide likely to pay price for 'secret' trip fiasco

By Amos Harel, Haaretz Correspondent At least one person will pay the price for the fiasco of the prime minister's visit to Russia: Maj. Gen. Meir Kalifi, Benjamin Netanyahu's military secretary. It isn't that Kalifi is free of blame in this story, but it seems that the speed with which he was identified as the near sole person responsible for the embarrassment was meant to spare others responsible, including Netanyahu, his political adviser, Uzi Arad, and his media adviser, Nir Hefetz, from any blame. Sacrificing the military secretary, who lacks political support or any personal commitment from Netanyahu (having been appointed to the post during the tenure of Ehud Olmert), is not particularly media savvy and whose military career is in any case close to its end, is expected to put an end to the rumor mill surrounding the sensitive nature of the visit, and the failed effort to keep it a secret. No less important, it may temporarily contain the infighting at the Prime Minister's Bureau, among those who are battling for Netanyahu's graces: Arad vs. Hefetz, and government secretary Zvi Hauser. Thursday there were already rumors that Kalifi had prepared a letter of resignation. The officer, responding to Haaretz, denied the rumor. But there is no doubt that he is furious at the way he has been treated. The story had already appeared in the press Thursday: Netanyahu and Arad kept Hefetz in the dark on the planned visit. The Prime Minister's disappearance on Monday stirred a wave of rumors and reporters called on Netanyahu's media adviser, who admitted he did not know. Later, Hefetz issued a false announcement, which was, unusually, made under Kalifi's name, claiming that Netanyahu was in a security related facility. It was reported that Hefetz at that time still had no idea where Netanyahu was. Kalifi was also not in Russia. [CLICK HERE TO READ ENTIRE STORY]
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