The Foreign Ministry's ambassadors' conference on Monday turned into a protest against government policy. Yaakov Amidror, head of the National Security Council, lost his patience after Ron Prosor, Israel's ambassador to the UN, asked him a question. Amidror burst out at the diplomats: "If you do not agree with government policy, either go into politics or resign."
Amidror was speaking before 160 ambassadors and heads of Israeli missions abroad. Following a scholarly survey of the political situation with regards to the Iranian threat, the Palestinian issue and international developments, Amidror took questions from the audience.
UN steps up pressure on Israel over settlements
Prosor, one of the highest ranking Israeli diplomats in the world, asked Amidror what was the rationale behind timing the decision to promote construction in area E1 (between Jerusalem and Ma'aleh Adumim) after the UN resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to an observer state status.
Prosor's fellow ambassadors, who found it difficult to explain to the world the basis of Israel's foreign policy on the matter, applauded Prosor. Amidror was not taken aback. "I don't think that the British Foreign Office would have applauded a question which implies criticism of government policy," he said.
"There is no way the State Department would have cheered a question which criticized President Obama's policy." Answering the question, Amidror said that there was a need to make it clear to the Palestinians that unilateral moves on their part come with a price.
"Unpleasant tones"The reproach by Netanyahu's adviser caused uproar, and Ran Curiel, Deputy Director of the Foreign Ministry, intervened, trying to calm the situation. "I want to say that the applause was not aimed against government policy but was an expression to our concern," Curiel said. "It may be that a certain frustration was expressed because sometimes we are not given the tools needed to explain governmental policy."
Amidror was not appeased: "Gentlemen, do no be confused. You are the government's representatives. If that doesn't suit you: either go into politics or resign. I'm a clerk in the State of Israel, the chief of staff is a clerk and you are all clerks. Our job is to advise, but in the end it is up to the political leaders to make the decisions. If you think there are problems with the policies you can express your concerns behind closed doors."
Ambassadors left the conference feeling highly displeased. "It ended in unpleasant tones. Prosor asked a completely legitimate question and was rebuked. We don't argue that our job is to represent the state, but those who do have to understand the logic behind its decisions."
It should be noted that the Foreign Ministry recommended to the government to postpone any counter-measures to the Palestinian bid so as not to focus international attention on Israel, fearing it may be seen as vindictive. But the Prime Minister chose to ignore this recommendation. The result was that Israel was caught in an unprecedented storm of condemnation and many of its ambassadors were reprimanded.
President Shimon Peres also discussed the Palestinian issue on Monday, for the second time this week. A day after declaring Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to be a partner for peace and severely criticizing Netanyahu and Lieberman's handling of diplomacy, the president said that "there is nothing wrong with talking to Hamas, as long as it accepts the terms of the Quartet. Hamas and Gaza have to decide what they want – peace or war."
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