Israeli Envoy Recalled Over Nude Exploit in El Salvador

Associated Press
Tuesday, March 13, 2007

JERUSALEM, March 12 -- Israel has recalled its ambassador to El Salvador after he was found naked, bound and drunk, according to Israeli news media reports confirmed Monday by a government spokeswoman.

The longtime diplomat, Tsuriel Raphael, has been removed from his post, and the Foreign Ministry has begun searching for a replacement, said ministry spokeswoman Zehavit Ben-Hillel.

Two weeks ago, police in El Salvador found Raphael in the yard of his residence, tied up, gagged with a ball and drunk, Israeli media reported. He was wearing sex bondage equipment, news reports said. After he was untied, Raphael told police he was the ambassador of Israel, the reports said.

Ben-Hillel said that the reports were accurate and that Raphael has been recalled, although he did not break any laws.

"We're talking about behavior that is unbecoming of a diplomat," she said.

The ambassador did not file a police complaint in the incident, she said.

Raphael had served for six months as the ambassador in El Salvador and for several years at various missions around the world, she said.

The embarrassing incident was one of several involving Israeli diplomats in recent years. In 2000, Israel's ambassador to France died of cardiac arrest in a Paris hotel under circumstances the Foreign Ministry refused to describe.

News reports said he was with a woman who was not his wife.

Last year, Israel replaced its ambassador to Australia, Naftali Tamir, after he said Israel and Australia were "like sisters" because both are located in Asia and their peoples do not have the Asian characteristics of "yellow skin and slanted eyes."

In 2005, Israel canceled the appointment of a diplomat to Australia after it was discovered that he had published pictures of nude Brazilian women online while on a mission in Brazil.

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