The Foreign Ministry has released new, more stringent criteria for the issuing of diplomatic passports, thus dramatically reducing the number of officials eligible to receive them, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Sunday.
A diplomatic passport is mostly a status symbol, but it does grant its owner some perks, such as not having to wait in line at the border control in many international airports. In some airports, owners of diplomatic passports pass through security with greater ease, are allowed entry to VIP rooms and are given various discounts.
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The new criteria were formulated by a special committee that discussed the issue over a period of two years. The committee decided to reduce the number of government and security establishment employees who are eligible for diplomatic passports and determined that from now on only senior officials from the rank of director- general and above will receive them, as will a few professionals.
Until now diplomatic passports were granted to hundreds of people working for the IDF, the Shin Bet security service, Mossad, Israel Police and the various government offices.
According to the new guidelines, former senior officials will not be permitted to hold on to their diplomatic passports, and ministers will be obligated to return their diplomatic passports as soon as their term ends. Only presidents, prime ministers, foreign ministers and presidents of the Supreme Court will be permitted to hold on to their diplomatic passports for life.
As for professional diplomats, the committee determined that former ambassadors who were appointed by the Foreign Ministry's appointment committee will be able to hold on to their diplomatic passports for life. Political appointees will not enjoy this benefit.
The committee also granted the Foreign Ministry's director-general the authority to strip officials who were convicted of a crime of their diplomatic passports – including former prime ministers and presidents. However, if a convicted felon is elected to the Knesset, he or she will be eligible to receive a diplomatic passport.
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