The Israeli Foreign Ministry has recalled Uri Oren, its ambassador to South Africa, for questioning regarding his much-publicized alleged liaison with a member of the South African military. Oren was the Israeli consul general in Los Angeles between 1993 and 1995.
"I am amazed, astonished and bewildered at their change of heart," Oren said on the eve of his departure for Israel.
"I have no idea why they are doing this," he said, adding that he had never seen the original report from the Foreign Ministry, which alleged that the woman with whom he supposedly had the affair posed a security threat.
The recall by the Foreign Ministry, which was a reversal of an earlier decision not to summon Oren home, came after Israeli newspapers reported last month that Oren, who is married, was having an affair with Maj. Elize Lizamore, who works for the South African army's department of communications.
The reports had initially suggested that either Oren or Lizamore was spying on the other's activities.
Oren returned to Israel armed with a statement from the South African military's headquarters that cleared Lizamore of allegations that she is an intelligence agent.
Lizamore "has no access to sensitive information or is in no way privileged to this information," the statement said.
South African military officials also said they had found that Lizamore "did not behave improperly and therefore consider the issue as closed."
Oren, who said Lizamore works with a military radio station that broadcasts educational information to servicemen, repeated his earlier denials that he had had an affair with her.
While he had "good social connections" with this officer, Oren said,"there is no truth in an intimate or romantic relationship with her."
He said he was defending "the right of others in my position to a private, personal life."
"There is a very clear line dividing the extent to which the public has a right to know and when the matter should become public. It may only become public when the public, the post or the country might be affected, in other words when there is a security risk. I would not have overstepped written rules in this regard."-- JTA