Education Minister Naftali Bennett has mended fences with Foreign Ministry officials after publicly questioning their loyalty.
Commenting on the anti-Israel activities of former director-general of the ministry, Alon Liel, Bennett described it as an “earthquake,” and said he was “starting to think that maybe there is a problem in the DNA of the Foreign Ministry.”
Bennett also wondered aloud if anyone knew whether Liel “did not do these things during his tenure.”
A furious worker’s committee said it would cease cooperation with Bennett until he apologized for the remarks, made on Tel Aviv Radio on Friday. Other government officials also condemned Liel, but limited their remarks to him and did not cast aspersions on the Foreign Ministry in general.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely and the ministry’s current director-general Dore Gold issued statements backing the diplomatic staff.
“One cannot draw conclusions about the Foreign Ministry employees from Liel’s grave statements,” Netanyahu said, adding that ministry staff “serve the country faithfully and carry out the government’s policies.”
Bennett made a clarification in a meeting with Hanan Godar of the Foreign Ministry, maintaining that he had been referring only to certain former officials he thought were “harming” Israel, and not Israel’s diplomats in general.
“We had a good meeting,” said the ministry’s Hanan Godar. “This issue is now behind us.”