Amidror Tells Ambassadors To Toe the Line

YERUSHALAYIM -

Israel’s National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror rebuked a gathering of the Foreign Ministry’s senior diplomats for an apparent outburst of dissatisfaction with the government’s E1 policy.

The incident, occurring during the annual conference of ambassadors in Yerushalayim Monday, was sparked by a question from ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor concerning the timing of the announcement of new construction in the E1 corridor near the capital. The announcement came a day after the Palestinians won their upgrade in the U.N., where Prosor faced intense international condemnation.

That led to more queries along the same line from other envoys. Israel’s ambassador to Prague Yaakov Levy asked, according to one official, in a “sharper manner,” which drew some applause from his colleagues.

Amidror’s reaction was less than diplomatic.

“I don’t think that in the British Foreign Office they would clap at a question that hinted at criticism of the government’s policy,” he said. “You would not have a situation where there would be applause in the State Department at a question that hinted at criticism of President Obama’s policies.”

At that point, Ran Curiel, a Ministry deputy director general, suggested that the applause was not meant as criticism, even if it seemed unfriendly: “It is possible this reflected a degree of frustration because we want to explain the government’s policies, but are not always given the tools to do so.”

But Amidror was not mollified. “Gentlemen, don’t get confused. You are representatives of the government. If this does not suit you, either go into politics or resign. I am a government functionary; the chief of general staff is a government functionary. Our job is to give advice and at the end the leaders make the decisions. If you think there is a problem with the policy, you can express that in closed forums.”

Afterwards, one diplomatic official told The Jerusalem Post that many of the envoys feel they were not properly briefed on the reason for the E1 decision, the timing of it, and the objectives of the government’s policy.

The government’s decision to respond to the PA’s unilateral move at the U.N. with the E1 announcement was taken against the Foreign Ministry’s advice. Ministry officials had argued that it would be counterproductive, as it would distract world attention from the Palestinian abrogation of the Oslo accord, and back to the issue of Israeli construction.

The Prime Minister’s Office did not comment on the Amidror incident. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s will address the envoys on Thursday.