Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Israeli ambassadors and consuls general in European countries and the United States have complained that recurring corruption scandals involving Israeli politicians and senior public figures are damaging Israel's image abroad.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni heard complaints about the situation during a round of phone calls with envoys to European cities who said the issue of corruption scandals are being extensively covered in the local media and are being raised by journalists, diplomats and Jewish community leaders with whom they meet.
Officials told Livni that the sexual assault scandal implicating President Moshe Katsav, a number of investigations into inappropriate conduct by Prime Minister Ehud Olmert before resuming office, and the latest corruption scandal at the Tax Authority in which the prime minister's bureau chief was implicated are among the most followed topics.
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Envoys demanded the Foreign Ministry issues clear guidelines as to who they should react to the scandals.
Livni reportedly advised her employees to stress the positive aspect of the scandals. "Here," she said, "nothing is thrown under the carpet. To the contrary, law enforcement authorities work hard to correct the twisted and exterminate corruption and that's what is happening today."
Livni said jokingly that one of the positive things the envoys should stress during talks with diplomats abroad that in Israel the foreign minister is also the justice minister.