Cockroach row splits embassy staff

A COCKROACH extermination gone awry not only had Israel's Ambassador in Kazakhstan spend a day in hospital but also poisoned the mood at the embassy, a report said today.


Yisrael Mei-Ami

A foreign ministry inspector was heading to the Kazakh capital Astana to look into the affair, amid calls for the enraged ambassador to tone down his undiplomatic attacks on his deputy, the Ynet news website reported.

The story began when ambassador Yisrael Mei-Ami complained that his apartment was infested with cockroaches and other creepy-crawlies.

A local pest control company came, but the unwelcome guests remained.

The matter then fell to Mr Mei-Ami's deputy, Ziv Bilous, who had a handyman spray the apartment.

But the locally bought pest control products proved a bit too strong.

When the ambassador returned to his apartment, he felt ill and was rushed to hospital where he remained for a day with poisoning symptoms.

Upon his release he sent the foreign ministry a blistering telegram entitled: "The ambassador's poisoning'' in which he demanded that his deputy be investigated for "negligence bordering on criminal action,'' it said.

Foreign ministry officials requested that the ambassador change the undiplomatic language in his complaint, calling it "inappropriate.''

"I can assure you that foreign ministry delegates are not in the habit of poisoning each other,'' Ynet quoted ministry spokesman Yossi Levy as saying.

He said the affair had not dented the chemistry between the ambassador and his deputy, calling their relations "intact.''

"In any event, the foreign ministry has appointed a person to look into the details of this puzzling affair,'' he added.