According to an Army Radio report on Sunday, Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon was removed from the Yisrael Beytenu ticket because he held a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton without informing his boss, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.
The report, confirmed by senior Foreign Ministry officials, claimed Lieberman was infuriated with Ayalon over the meeting, in part because Lieberman himself does not have a good working relationship with Clinton.
Ayalon reportedly met several times with Clinton in an attempt to maintain proper foreign policy conduct between the countries. Ayalon was responsible for Israel's strategic relations with the U.S. and was in constant contact with Clinton's deputy throughout his term of office.
His regular meetings with Clinton were kept secret from Lieberman, in accordance with an agreement between Ayalon and Clinton. According to the report, when Lieberman found out about the meetings, he fired Ayalon.
Lieberman and Clinton met several times during their terms in office but the frequency of their meetings was much lower than those of past foreign ministers of both countries.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak held more frequent meetings with Clinton whenever he visited the U.S. to meet with defense officials.
Close advisers of Ayalon confirmed the report, but an official statement by the Foreign Ministry said, "The allegations are childish and groundless, but we shouldn't judge someone in their hour of despair."
Meanwhile, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to announce on Monday or Tuesday the closure of the main criminal case against Lieberman involving fraud allegations.
Lieberman has been under investigation for 14 years on suspicion that he received millions of dollars from private businesspeople abroad, among them Austrian entrepreneur Martin Schlaff, Uzbek-Israeli businessman Michael Cherney, and diamond tycoons Dan Gertler and Daniel Gittenstein, who allegedly funneled funds through what may have been front companies and corporations owned by Lieberman.