Tardiness on the part of former prime minister Ehud Barak in replying to questions put by federal prosecutors in New York has led to a threat that he might be arrested the next time he sets foot in the US.
Prosecutors are investigating the circumstances that led to the pardon of financier Marc Rich, who has been living in Switzerland for 17 years to avoid prosecution on charges of tax evasion. Rich received the pardon from former president Bill Clinton on his last day in office.
A report on the possibility that Barak could face arrest was published in Ha'aretz last Friday. According to the report, Barak, who had been instrumental in urging Clinton to grant a pardon to Rich - who is a generous contributor to numerous local projects and allegedly assisted in Mossad operations - had, via the government, reached an agreement with the prosecutors that he would be questioned here with the assistance of the Foreign Ministry.
The questions were presented to Barak, but he has not yet replied to all of them. The prosecutors' office was most displeased when it learned that Barak had been in the US in the last week of October to participate with Clinton in a fund-raiser for Beilinson Hospital. An angry letter was sent to the Israei embassy warning that if Barak does not reply to the questions, he could face arrest the next time he comes to the US.
Barak's office told The Jerusalem Post Sunday that he intends to answer all the questions as agreed, just as he replied to all the questions posed by the congressional panel that investigated the pardon.