Romania’s opposition leader Ludovic Orban accused Israeli political strategists who worked with the leading party of being spies, in an ongoing scandal in Bucharest surrounding Prime Minister Viorica Dancila’s visit to Jerusalem in April.
The complaint, which drew criticism and calls for a no-confidence vote even within Orban’s National Liberal Party, named strategists Moshe Klughaft, Sefi Shaked and Assaf Eisen, who helped the Romania’s center-left Social Democratic Party win a landslide victory in 2016, accusing them of espionage. The story was first reported in Israel by Attila Somfalvi at Ynet.
Klughaft is best known in Israel for his instrumental role in Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett’s rise to power, and Shaked has worked with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Shas chairman Arye Deri.
The strategists’ offices released a statement saying that “someone in the Romanian opposition apparently read too many spy novels. We are professionals and managed an election campaign, and since the victory in Romania, we have no connection to Romania or to [the possibility of] moving the embassy [to Jerusalem].”
Orban filed a criminal complaint against Dancila and the pro-Israel President of the Romanian Chamber of Deputies Liviu Dragnea last week, accusing them of treason. The complaint came after Dancila met with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on a two-day visit to Jerusalem, but did not ask Romanian President Klaus Iohannis for permission, as required by the Romanian Constitution. Iohannis and Orban are members of the same party, and political rivals of Dancila.
Iohannis criticized Dancila for saying Romania would be willing to move its embassy to Jerusalem.
Dragnea called the accusations against the Israeli political campaigners institutional and systemic antisemitism.
“They work with heads of state, they are respectable people. We had a contract with them in the parliamentary elections.
It was closed in 2016. We have no contact with them [now],” Dragnea said in an interview with Romanian TV, adding that he plans to work with the Israeli team again in the future.
Asked if the Romanian Embassy will move to Jerusalem, Dragnea said maybe.
A source close to Klughaft and Shaked confirmed that the two have had no business in Romania since the 2016 election.
Klughaft is currently working in several other European countries, including Kosovo, which has a Muslim majority.