Condemnation has come in from across the political spectrum following Education Minister Naftali Bennett's statements that seemed to cast aspersions on the loyalty of Israel's Foreign Ministry employees.
At the end of the week Bennett stated that the actions of Alon Liel, former head of the Foreign Ministry, showed that he is a prominent left-wing activist who calls for increasing international pressure on Israel in order to end the occupation in the territories. This, Bennett said, reveals something about the DNA of the Foreign Ministry's employees.
Bennett's comments came following revelations that Liel had consulted with left-wing group Breaking the Silence.
In response, the employees decided to stop cooperating with Bennett and to boycott his visits abroad.
"I'm beginning to think that the Foreign Ministry has a problem in its DNA," Bennett said during an interview on Radio Tel Aviv. "There are always complaints about the Foreign Ministry. There is a profound problem with people like Alon Liel, who was at the ministry for a long time.
"They ask where the hasbara is. What hasbara? When you have the number one pyromaniac at the head of the system, what hasbara is there?"
He further added that Alon Liel was responsible for Israel's foreign relations and is now trying to isolate the country. "After all that they shout that Israel is isolated in the world. It bothers me greatly that the man who was responsible for advancing Israel's international standing is now doing everything he can in order to harm it."
On Friday a committee of Foreign Ministry employees published an official response, announcing: "The State of Israel's education minister has expressed distorted views against Foreign Ministry employees.
"In saying that the ministry's employees need their DNA checked, he is casting doubt on our loyalty to the state, its institutions and the government," the statement continued.
"The outrageous statements of individual retirees, who have left the Foreign Ministry, are not an excuse for a minister of the State of Israel to unreservedly lash out against employees.
"We are taking these statements very seriously and are therefore briefing all Foreign Ministry workers to cease cooperating with Minister Bennett until he takes back his words and apologizes," the statement added.
In response, Bennett's office stated: "The minister's statements in the interview were directed at those who act against the State of Israel such as Alon Liel, the former director general of the Foreign Ministry.
"The ministry's employees are working with devotion during difficult days for the country, and their mistaking these comments only proves that," the statement continued.
Following Bennett's remarks Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is also the foreign minister, released an official statement rejecting the comments.