Lieberman. Reforms
Photo: AFP
Herzog wants PM to call Lieberman to order
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Lieberman: Foreign Ministry cadets must be loyal to State

Ynet learns of demand made by FM during meeting with senior ministry officials: Anyone who has not served in army or completed national service will not be able to represent Israel abroad. In other words, Arabs and haredim will not be accepted into Israeli Foreign Service

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman demanded during a meeting with his ministry's management on Monday that anyone who has not served in the Israel Defense Forces or completed national service would not be eligible to take part in the Foreign Ministry's prestigious cadets' course and represent Israel abroad.


Lieberman is seeking to encourage members of the Arab and ultra-Orthodox sectors, who wish to be accepted into the Israeli Foreign Service, to commit to national service at the very least, if not to full military service, like any other Israeli citizen.


Lieberman's instruction rules essentially that Israeli Arabs and other minorities, who have avoided volunteering for IDF service or national service, would not be able to apply for the cadets' course as they have done so far.


Although there are not many Arab or haredi diplomats, blocking their admission into Israel's foreign service due to their failure to serve in the army, may spark deep resentment among sectors which feel deprived as it is.


Lieberman "dropped the bomb" during Monday morning's Foreign Ministry meeting. Some of the ministry's senior officials noted that this may not be legal, prompting the foreign minister to request a legal opinion on the matter.


"If this is not made possible as far as the Civil Service and the Commission, we'll work to change the law at the Knesset," he said.


Change of policy

In the previous government, former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert sought to reinforce the presence of Israeli Arabs and other minorities in the Civil Service. Lieberman's suggestion, which is included in the platform of his Yisrael Beiteinu party, thwarts Olmert's efforts, at least in the Foreign Ministry.


"It's unthinkable that a person who represents the State of Israel does not share the burden of duties of the State's citizens," the minister clarified.


The topic of Monday's meeting was the Foreign Ministry cadets' course as part of reforms being implemented by Lieberman. The minister suggested that the Foreign Ministry turn to outstanding and talented people who are suitable for diplomatic service, according to a profile set in advance by the ministry, and offer them to serve the country abroad and join the cadets' course.


The people pursued by Lieberman include academicians, young people from the private sector and workers of other government offices.


Herzog: FM's remarks unbearable

Politicians responded angrily to Lieberman's new plan. His fellow government member, Social Affairs Minister Isaac Herzog (Labor), demanded that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu call the foreign minister to order over his latest remarks.


"Lieberman's serial and unbearable statements are wearing out the government's future and achievements, and are first and foremost hurting Netanyahu, how is on a critical diplomatic mission."


According to Herzog," It should be made clear to Lieberman, who is acting out of narrow political motives, that the unstoppable flow of statements fails to serve the State's interest."


Knesset Member Yuli Tamir (Labor) called on Lieberman to resign from his post. "It's unthinkable that the Israeli government will have a senior minister with a racist agenda, which is discriminatory against large parts of the population," she said.


MK Talab El-Sana (United Arab List-Ta'al) said that Lieberman's demand was "a miserable and racist decision." According to El-Sana, "This person is out of his mind and is shooting in all directions indiscriminately. Is this the Foreign Ministry or the General Staff? This is racism disguised as military service."


The MK added that the decision would not be approved by the High Court of Justice and contradicts Basic Law: Freedom of Occupation.


Yael Branovsky, Amnon Meranda and Sahron Roffe-Ofir contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 08.24.09, 12:43
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