anyone who becomes an ambassador for israel deserves all he gets
National security adviser chided for snapping at envoys
Shiri Hadar, Ynet, Jan 1 2012
Former Israeli diplomats chided national security adviser Yaakov Amidror on Tuesday for losing his temper and reproaching Israeli ambassadors who dared to show a hint of disapproval of government policy earlier this week. Amidror on Monday told a conference of 160 envoys that if they disagree with the State’s policies, they should either “go into politics or resign.” Amidror, who heads the National Security Council, discussed the political climate with regards to the Iranian threat, the Palestinian issue and other international developments, and later took questions from the audience. The remark came after the envoys applauded Israel’s ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, who implored Amidror to justify the decision to announce expanded settlement construction so soon after the UN resolved to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to an observer state status. Upon being faced with Prosor’s question and the subsequent ovation, he asserted that such behavior wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere, saying:
I don’t think that the British Foreign Office would have applauded a question which implies criticism of government policy. There is no way the State Dept would have cheered a question which criticized Obama’s policy.
Avraham Primor, who has served as Israel’s ambassador to the EU, Germany, Luxemburg and Belgium, said Tuesday that Amidror’s reaction was inappropriate. Primor, who now heads the Center for European Studies at the Hertzliya Interdisciplinary Center, said that instead of snapping at the ambassadors, Amidror should have simply explained how to deal with questions about the government’s decision to build in a disputed West Bank area known as E1. According to Primor, the ambassadors were simply seeking clarification of the government’s positions. He told Ynet:
They were all equally vexed and were just happy that someone stood up and spoke. They just wanted to better understand the positions in order to defend them more effectively. This wasn’t a response of someone who knows much about diplomacy. I don’t ever remember being reproached for questions or nonconformist opinions. As ambassadors we always had the sense that we were not only allowed but also obligated to say what we feel and think.
Nevertheless, he noted that personal opinions aside, the diplomats’ job was to represent the government. Shimon Stein, who has served as Israel’s ambassador to Germany, echoed Primor’s sentiment, saying that it was perfectly acceptable for an envoy to voice disapproval in a domestic forum. Therefore, he said, Amidror’s reaction was out of place. He said:
There is no doubt that his response to the question made by Prosor, an ambassador who does his job loyally, was inappropriate, especially since it touched upon such a contentious government decision.
Defend government policy or resign, ambassadors told
Matthew Kalman, Independent, Jan 1 2013
Israeli ambassadors from around the world meeting in Jerusalem for their annual get-together have been told to support the government’s domestic and foriegn policies or resign. Yaakov Amidror, the head of Israel’s National Security Council, lashed out at the 150 diplomats, telling them they were “clerks” whose job was to represent and advise the government. Amidror told the ambassadors after they applauded a question from Israeli ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor: “If this doesn’t suit you, quit or run for political office.” Prosor had queried the timing of the recent Israeli government decision announcing settlement construction in E1, east of Jerusalem. The undiplomatic bust-up, which occurred behind closed doors but was leaked to the press, reflected mounting frustration among Israeli diplomats who feel they are excluded from key areas of foreign policymaking. The ‘peace process’ with the Palestinians and USrael relations are handled directly by netanyahu, bypassing Israel’s regular diplomatic machinery. Foreign ministry officials often complain in private that they have little or no input or knowledge about policy-making but are expected to defend controversial decisions once they are taken. Ambassadors said they had no advance warning of the E1 decision, which was taken in response to the UNGA vote on Nov 29 recognising Palestine as a non-member observer state. Prosor had led the doomed Israeli diplomatic effort to stymie the vote. Israel’s ambassador in Prague wrote a scathing memo after the E1 decision, sarcastically congratulating the government on alienating the Czech government, perhaps Israel’s strongest supporter in Europe. Israeli diplomats were shocked by the vehemence of Amidror’s response, which they described as unwarranted and excessive. Ran Curiel, the foreign ministry’s deputy director-general, said the applause was a sign of widespread frustration. He told Yediot Ahronot: “We want to explain the government’s policies but are not always given the tools.”