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The Israeli military has confirmed on Wednesday that Col Vadim Leiderman, military attache in Russia, was expelled by the Russian government on accusations of espionage. According to the BBC, a joint statement by Israel’s defense ministry and the military spokesman’s office read that “The [Israeli Defense Forces] military attache and ministry of defense representative in Russia, an IDF colonel, was detained for investigation last week by Russian authorities on suspicion of spying.”
The Russian government have yet to confirm the accusations but the Israeli army, which have investigated the claims, believe they are unfounded. Israeli media reported that Col Leiderman had been taken into detention 10 days ago and questioned on suspicion of espionage but after claiming diplomatic immunity, the IDF colonel was given 48 hours to leave the country. The Israeli newspaper Haaretz told the BBC that there had been a gagging order on the matter until Wednesday evening.
Israel is said to be going through a turbulent time amid the Arab spring and chilly relations with the country’s number one ally, the US. This week, the diplomatic wheels will once more start turning over the question of the Palestinian State as the Israeli PM Binyamin Netanyahu is flying to Washington in a pre-empted effort to contain the ‘diplomatic tsunami’ expected to hit Israel in September. On Tuesday, the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas urged the international community to recognize a Palestinian State at the UN Assembly this autumn, stating in an opinion piece from the New York Times that Palestinians “cannot wait indefinitely” for a state of their own.
“Palestine’s admission to the United Nations would pave the way for the internationalization of the conflict as a legal matter, not only a political one,” the Palestinian leader explained. When the UN General Assembly meets in September, their recognition would enable Palestine to negotiate “from the position of one United Nations member whose territory is military occupied by another [...] and not as a vanquished people ready to accept whatever terms are put in front of us,” he added.
According to The Guardian, the ice between Israel and their long-time ally has been the result of President Obama and his policy of reaching out to Arab and Muslim communities around the world. Netanyahu and his government has viewed this move as “selling Israel out”, a situation which has left the Jewish state troubled by what the future may bring.
Besides worrying about regional revolt, the crumpling support of Arab allies and the development of neighboring nuclear programs – Israel’s latest concern regarding Russia’s nuclear cooperation with Iran and arms sales to Syria could have resulted in their defense representative poking his nose a little too deep into the Russian ‘borcsh’.
The Israeli military has states that “thorough investigation” has cleared colonel Leiderman of passing sensitive information to Israel. So far, Moscow has made no official statement.
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