Authorities officers query ex-ambassador to Israel’s workplace house, non-public conferences

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New stories are rising concerning the former Canadian ambassador to Israel’s tenure, months after Radio-Canada/CBC revealed {that a} lawsuit launched by ex-ambassador Vivian Bercovici in opposition to the federal authorities had been settled.

In a letter she wrote to Alan Bender, a Toronto businessman and Liberal supporter in November 2019, Bercovici provided to halt her lawsuit in opposition to the Authorities of Canada as a solution to thank him for saving her life.

Whereas the circumstances surrounding the alleged menace to Bercovici’s life stay unknown, Radio-Canada has discovered extra about her tenure as ambassador.

Accounts from half-a-dozen authorities officers — most of them with World Affairs Canada — elevate questions on workplace house leased outdoors the embassy, and personal conferences Bercovici held with Israeli authorities officers.

A ‘mini-embassy’

After her arrival on the embassy in Tel Aviv, Bercovici insisted on having an workplace outdoors of the embassy itself. This request finally was granted after being initially turned down.

“She basically set up a mini embassy outside the embassy,” mentioned one authorities official. “It was highly unusual.”

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“I had never seen anything like this before, even in embassies that are older than the Tel Aviv embassy,” mentioned one other official.

World Affairs Canada confirms that the federal government of Canada rented workplace house at 22 Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv from July 2015 to June 2016.

The workplaces at 22 Rothschild Boulevard in Tel Aviv. (AVIV GROUP)

Bercovici was faraway from the publish by Prime Minister Trudeau in June, 2016.

In 2018, Bercovici launched a lawsuit in opposition to the federal authorities alleging, amongst different issues, that the Trudeau authorities acted in unhealthy religion when it terminated her and that she had not been correctly compensated for her pension advantages.

In her lawsuit, Bercovici said {that a} newly appointed high-ranking embassy official had “immediately started questioning (… her) operational expenses and decisions concerning the embassy.” She mentioned the questions have been “without any basis,” since these selections and bills had been permitted.

In response to courtroom information on the Ontario Superior Court docket of Justice, the workplace of the Lawyer Normal of Canada had agreed to share with Bercovici copies of emails, correspondence and notes from World Affairs Canada officers about “allegations regarding improper contracting for secondary embassy space and flouting of authorities and channels to do so.”

The AG’s workplace additionally agreed to share with Bercovici emails from senior authorities officers and Canadian diplomats concerning allegations of “disloyalty to Canada, allegiance to Prime Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu, and Israel.”

Bercovici said in her lawsuit that her “loyalty to Canada was constantly questioned” by World Affairs officers “and Department officials spread a malicious rumour” that she had “gone ‘rogue’ and set up a parallel Embassy structure in Israel in order to implement a personal agenda.”

Materials associated to these allegations has not been added to public courtroom information and the problems raised within the lawsuit have been by no means argued earlier than a decide. Not one of the allegations have been confirmed in a courtroom of legislation.

Personal conferences with Israeli authorities officers

Senior authorities officers who spoke to Radio-Canada/CBC mentioned they typically perceived Bercovici as extra of a spokesperson for the Israeli authorities than the ambassador for Canada.

In her lawsuit, Bercovici described the allegations of disloyalty as “vicious and unmeritorious attacks on her integrity and loyalty.”

Senior authorities officers say Bercovici typically met with Israeli authorities representatives with out her Canadian embassy advisers current.

In response to these officers, such one-on-one conferences between an envoy and a overseas authorities official are fairly uncommon. A Canadian ambassador sometimes is accompanied to such conferences by the officers accountable for the information being mentioned. Along with offering their experience, these officers can observe up on agenda objects and act as witnesses to the discussions.

Bercovici’s non-public conferences with Israeli authorities officers raised issues amongst some Canadian officers. “We in the government of Canada were not privy to what was discussed there on behalf of the government of Canada,” mentioned one official.

“What did she convey? What did she reveal to them? They are friends, but still a foreign country.”

Then-Canadian ambassador to Israel Vivian Bercovici shakes arms with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at an embassy occasion. (The Canadian Embassy in Israel)

Some defined Bercovici’s non-public conferences with Israeli officers by pointing to her shut ties to the federal government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to the difficulties she skilled in adapting to the job of ambassador.

Bercovici was not a profession diplomat. She was a lawyer and wrote columns for the Toronto Star during which she made her pro-Israel place clear.

Bercovici was appointed ambassador in January, 2014 by then-prime minister Stephen Harper, himself a robust supporter of Israel and of Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Radio-Canada despatched an e mail to Bercovici inquiring concerning the workplace house at 22 Rothschild, her non-public conferences with Israeli authorities officers and the allegations of disloyalty to Canada.

Bercovici’s lawyer William McDowell, from the Toronto legislation agency Lenczner Slaght, replied to Radio Canada’s e mail. In his written reply, he identified that her lawsuit has been settled.

Non-disclosure settlement

“A comprehensive non-disclosure agreement prevents both Ms. Bercovici and the defendants from discussing any and all matters relating to her years of service or the legal proceedings,” McDowell wrote. “Our client has no intention of breaching this NDA. To respond appropriately to the points you raise would require her to do so.

“We advise that you just think about one vital overarching reality: all through Ms. Bercovici’s service all bills, and embassy operational issues, have been reviewed and permitted on the highest ranges within the Division.

“Your inquiries themselves bear blatantly anti-Semitic overtones.”

McDowell additionally requested Radio-Canada/CBC to haven’t any additional direct contact with Bercovici.

World Affairs Canada additionally mentioned that the division couldn’t remark as a result of a settlement had been reached between the events.

Radio-Canada has submitted inquiries to the next individuals however has not acquired replies: Ralph Jansen (deputy head of mission throughout a part of Bercovici’s tenure, now Canada’s ambassador to Peru); John Baird, who was International Affairs minister when Bercovici was ambassador; and former prime minister Stephen Harper.