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Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Amidror tells ambassadors: Quit or enter politics

Amidror tells ambassadors: Quit or enter politics
By HERB KEINON The Jerusalem Post 01/01/2013 12:54
http://www.jpost.com/DiplomacyAndPolitics/Article.aspx?id=298011

National Security Council head Yaakov Amidror's irritated response to
questions by Israeli ambassadors about E1 that they should either
represent Israel's position, resign or go into politics was representative
of a government attitude that does not put a premium on explaining policy to
those who must represent it, Foreign Ministry officials said Monday.

The officials were responding to a Yediot Ahronot story Monday that Amidror
snapped a day earlier at ambassador to the UN Ron Prosor when he asked about
the timing of the decision to announce planning for development of the E1
section between Jerusalem and Ma'ale Adumim. That announcement came a day
after the Palestinians won their statehood upgrade in November at the UN
General Assembly, and brought in its wake an avalanche of international
criticism.

Amidror was addressing the annual conference of Israel's ambassadors and
heads of delegations abroad currently taking place in Jerusalem.

According to ministry officials, Prosor who served previously as the
Foreign Ministry's director-general under Silvan Shalom and whose political
world-view is not considered left of center asked Amidror in a diplomatic
fashion about the E1 decision, in order to understand what stood behind it.

When Amidror said that he would take some more question and answer them all
together, a number of others asked for more information about the E1
decision.

Israel's ambassador to Prague, Yaakov Levy, asked further on the issue, and
did so, according to one official, in a "sharper manner." His formulation
elicited some applause by those sitting around him; applause which one
official said was as if to say, "Well said."

Amidror then began to answer, stopped, and chastised the envoys.

"I don't think that in the British Foreign Office they would clap at a
question that hinted at criticism of the government's policy," he said. "You
would not have a situation where there would be applause in the State
Department at a question that hinted at criticism of President Obama's
policies."

This exchange led Ran Curiel, a ministry deputy director general, to clarify
that the applause was not against the government's policies, but rather
because the question was one that was on the mind of many in the room. "It
is possible this reflected a degree of frustration because we want to
explain the government's policies, but are not always given the tools to do
so," he said.

To this Amidror replied, "Gentlemen, don't get confused. You are
representatives of the government. If this does not suit you, either go into
politics or resign. I am a government functionary; the chief of general
staff is a government functionary. Our job is to give advice and at the end
the leaders make the decisions. If you think there is a problem with the
policy, you can express that in closed forums."

One diplomatic official explained afterward that many of the envoys feel
they were not properly briefed on the reason for the E1 decision, the
timing of it, and what the objectives were of the government's settlement
policy

The government's decision to respond to the Palestinian Authority's move at
the UN by announcing plans for new building and planning in the settlements
was taken against the foreign ministry's advice, which was that such a move
would be counterproductive since it would deflect the world's attention away
from the Palestinian abrogation of the Oslo accord, and onto the settlement
issue.

The Prime Minister's Office had no response to the Amidror incident. Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is scheduled to address the envoys on Thursday.

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