Israel has dismissed its deputy ambassador in Washington over an alleged 2009 leak to the media about secret discussions involving the United States, diplomatic sources said on Wednesday.
They said that Dan Arbell, formerly the deputy director for North American affairs at Israel's Foreign Ministry, was removed after another senior diplomat implicated in the case was cleared by the security services.
Israel's bedrock alliance with the United States hasbeen bolstered by common concern about Iran's nuclear program, yet cracks have appeared as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and President Barack Obama disagreed on how to pursue Israeli-Palestinian peace.
Foreign Ministr spokeswoman Ilana Stein said: "A senior official is being returned after his tenure was brought to an end". She described the move as unusual, but declined to elaborate on the circumstances or the identity of the official.
The previous suspect in the alleged leak, Alon Bar, served at the time as the Foreign Ministry's deputy director for strategic affairs, a role devoted largely to monitoring Iran. Following a suspension, he was appointed ambassador to Spain.
Israeli media published closed-door comments last year by Michael Oren, Israel's ambassador to Washington, describing "a crisis of historic proportions" in bilateral ties after the Obama administration censured Jewish settlement in the occupied West Bank.
Netanyahu has described such reports as overblown, noting Obama's public support for Israel's military build-up and, last month, its diplomatic campaign against a Palestinian bid for full membership of the United Nations.
Some Israeli diplomats have chafed at the reign of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, an ultra-nationalist partner in Netanyahu's conservative coalition government who has often clashed openly with the prime minister over core policy making.