The new Israeli Ambassador does not know there are political prisnesr in Belarus.
On February 15 at his press-conference in Minsk the new Israeli Ambassador to Belarus Yosef Shagal stated that he knows nothing about existence of political prisoners in Belarus.
“I am a citizen of Israel, we do not have political prisoners. As for Belarus, I do not know, I should scan through newspapers. I will answer your question in half a year,” the Ambassador said answering the question of BelaPAN. “I am a journalist, and I know perfectly well how articles are written. Have you been in camps for political prisoners yourself?”
Yosef Shagal has underlined Israel is trying to be “as restrained as possible” on the international arena when discussing the situation in Belarus. “Therefore, Israel has never had any serious grievances against Belarus. If we took part in voting on some documents, it was on a parity basis, when Belarus voted against Israel in the issues of Palestinian-Israeli relations,” the diplomat said.
He also noted that Israel demonstrates low-key reaction as long as the sanctions of the European Union and the US against Belarus are in question. “We have certain alliance-related commitments obliging us to vote in a certain way, but we never initiate such things. Belarus does the same: it does not initiate anti-Israel campaigns, but supports the Russian Federation that often votes against Israel,” Shagal stressed.
The new Ambassador of Israel was appointed last October and started his work in Minsk in the end of January.
Yosef Shagal was born in Baku, he worked as a journalist in Israel, on TV “Ninth Channel” among others. He was elected to the Israeli Knesset of the 17th convocation from the party Yisrael Beiteinu (Israel is Our Home). On January 8, 2012 the Supreme Court of Justice of Israel disallowed the claim by “For Authorities’ Purity” movement against his appointment as an ambassador to Belarus. Plaintiffs claimed that there is a conflict of interests in this appointment, as an investigation was underway against Avigdor Lieberman, Foreign Minister of Israel, who had offered this candidature. The investigation had been initiated concerning activities of the former Israeli Ambassador to Belarus. Judge of the Supreme Court of Justice Esther Hayut noted in her decision that though the commission on appointment considered the nomination by Avigdor Lieberman, however the decision to appoint him was made proceeding from professional skills of the candidate. Thus, the court did not find any conflict of interests in this appointment.
Avigdor Lieberman put Shagal in nomination in the framework of 11 appointments he had a rule to make. The position of the Israeli ambassador to Minsk became vacant after Eduard Shapiro, ambassador ad interim, was moved to the position of Israeli consul in St Petersburg in March 2011.
On January 25 in an interview to an Internet TV channel ITON TV Yosef Shagal informed that he personally knows Alyaksandr Lukashenka. “To my mind, Lukashenka is a leader. He has certain minuses, but there is no denying his leadership, and it could be confirmed by the Belarusian nation, who vote in a normal way, no matter what is said about rigged results. Belarusians had a good life: they received salaries, pensioners received pensions, the country was clean, the economy worked well,” the diplomat said. “It happens in the conditions when Belarus is isolated – a powerful wave is primarily moving from Europe and the US, – they are charged with human rights violations, completely ignoring that almost the same, but on a larger scale, is happening in Russia. This emphasis, this stress is incomprehensible. As Israelites we know what a policy of double standards is, and we should understand perfectly well the countries which get into the same situation.”