The speech delivered by Israel's UN Ambassador Ron Prosor ahead of the recognition of the Palestinian Authority as a non-member observer state a month ago was impressive and echoed the sentiments of many Israelis. Netanyahu called Prosor and praised him with warm words. The prime minister appreciates powerful speeches. He frequently quarreled with his colleagues at the UN during his days as Israeli ambassador to the world body. Suddenly, without any prior warning, Prosor is no longer appreciated by the Prime Minster's Office.
As my colleague Itamar Eichner reported in Yedioth Ahronoth on Tuesday, National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror referred to Prosor and the rest of the Israeli diplomats gathered in Jerusalem "clerks," and suggested they either "go into politics or resign" if they do not agree with the government's policy. The remarks were made in response to Prosor's question regarding the rationale behind the timing of the government's decision to promote construction plans in the E1 zone near Ma'ale Adumim.
Amidror's offensive and hot-headed response is bewildering. Prosor was merely trying to take advantage of the meeting with the NSC chief to gather some "ammunition" he could use in his incessant attempts to defend the Israeli government's positions in New York and fend off the waves of criticism from some of Israel's closest friends.
Prosor, one of the most professional and talented diplomats ever to serve in the Foreign Ministry, was not looking to undermine the right of his superiors to make decisions. He wanted to understand the logic behind the decision. More importantly, Prosor and the rest of the Israeli ambassadors around the world are not the clerks of "Baron Netanyahu" and his representative Amidror. They are civil servants who were selected to serve the country around the world as best they can. They represent every elected government, not just Netanyahu's government.
This must be said, because lately we have been witnessing an ugly witch-hunt and an evil wind blowing from the hallways of the Prime Minister's Office. President Peres was attacked for daring to say that Israel must try to advance an agreement with the Palestinians. Let me remind you that Netanyahu accepted the two-state paradigm and vowed – during his first term as prime minister – to honor the Oslo agreements, explaining that he was adopting a decision reached by a previous Israeli government. In Israeli democracy, new governments are obligated to uphold past decisions involving international elements.
"I am a clerk, the chief of staff is a clerk and you are clerks," Amidror said. He may as well have said, "As soon as you joined the Foreign Service you left your intelligence and judgment at the door." Amidror and Netanyahu should be reminded that Israel earned such a respectable place among the world's nations due to brainstorming and intellect. They should allow every member of Israeli society to express his or her opinion without fear. And most importantly, they should keep in mind that everything is temporary, including their rule.