Israel's diplomats are clerks, and if they cannot represent the government's policies faithfully they should quit or enter politics, National Security Council chief Yaakov Amidror said Monday.
Amidror was speaking at the annual conference of Israel's ambassadors at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, when Israeli Ambassador to the U.N. Ron Prosor questioned the timing of the government's announcement of plans to build housing units in the controversial E1 area between Jerusalem and Maaleh Adumim one day after the U.N. General Assembly voted to recognize Palestine as a non-member observer state.
According to a report in the daily Yedioth Ahronoth, Prosor's question was followed by clapping from many of the gathered ambassadors.
Angered, Amidror lashed out at Prosor and the other 150 ambassadors and diplomats in the room.
"There is no chance that in the State Department a question that hints at criticism of [U.S. President Barack] Obama would be received with applause,” Amidror said. “Don't be confused, you are representatives of the government. If this doesn't suit you, quit or run for political office. We are clerks, I am a clerk, and you are clerks and we represent the government. Our job is to advise, and the job of the leadership is to take decisions."
According to a report in the Walla News website, the Foreign Ministry was not informed of the government's decision to announce construction in E1 on Nov. 30, one day after the U.N. vote. The ministry, and its global corps of diplomats, were still operating under the previous memo, in which Israel promised not to react to the vote with any unilateral measures of its own. Immediately following the E1 announcement, Israeli ambassadors in a slew of countries were called in to hear protests by their host governments.
Following Amidror's statements, senior Foreign Ministry officials were reportedly standing by Prosor, Israel Radio reported.
The sources told Israel Radio that Prosor had not challenged the government's policies, but had merely conveyed the difficulty that diplomats were having defending Israeli government policy when the envoys themselves did not understand its underlying logic, above and beyond the memos sent to them from headquarters in Jerusalem. The sources said that Amidror's attack on Prosor and the ambassadors was "unwarranted and excessive."
Amidror is considered very close to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.