Defend government policy or resign, Israel's ambassadors are told

Top security chief tells envoys to 'quit or go into politics' if they disagree with settlement plans

Jerusalem

Israeli ambassadors from around the world meeting in Jerusalem for their annual get-together have been told to support the government's domestic and foriegn policies or resign.

Yaakov Amidror, the head of Israel's National Security Council, lashed out at the 150 diplomats, telling them they were "clerks" whose job was to represent and advise the government.

"If this doesn't suit you, quit or run for political office," Mr Amidror told the ambassadors after they applauded a question from Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Ron Prosor, an ex-ambassador to London and former foreign ministry director-general.

Mr Prosor had queried the timing of a recent Israeli government decision announcing settlement construction in E1, an area of the West Bank east of Jerusalem that Palestinians say is vital for the geographical integrity of their future state. The undiplomatic bust-up, which occurred behind closed doors but was leaked to the press, reflected mounting frustration among Israeli diplomats who feel they are excluded from key areas of foreign policymaking. The two most important arenas of Israeli foreign policy – the peace process with the Palestinians and Israel-US relations – are handled directly by the Prime Minister, bypassing Israel's regular diplomatic machinery.

Foreign ministry officials often complain in private that they have little or no input or knowledge about policy-making but are expected to defend controversial decisions once they are taken. Ambassadors said they had no advance warning of the E1 decision, which was taken in response to the UN General Assembly vote on 29 November recognising Palestine as a non-member observer state. Mr Prosor had led the doomed Israeli diplomatic effort to stymie the vote.

Israel's ambassador in Prague wrote a scathing memo after the E1 decision, sarcastically congratulating the government on alienating the Czech government, perhaps Israel's strongest supporter in Europe.

Israeli diplomats were shocked by the vehemence of Mr Amidror's response which they described as "unwarranted and excessive". Ran Curiel, the foreign ministry's deputy director-general, said the applause was a sign of widespread frustration. "We want to explain the government's policies but are not always given the tools," he told the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper.

"The job of ambassadors is to defend and explain Israeli policy," said Gerald Steinberg, a political science professor at Bar-Ilan University. "They don't make policy and that's frustrating – even more when they are not consulted or informed. These are the most difficult issues to defend. Israeli ambassadors would rather deal with anything but settlements."

Most right-wing Israelis 'accept two-state plan'

Most right-wing Israelis would accept a demilitarised Palestinian state as part of an overall peace deal, a survey suggests.

The Washington-based S Daniel Abraham Centre for Middle East Peace found that at least 57 per cent of Israelis who said they would vote for the Likud-Beiteinu list headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the pro-settler Jewish Home party would support two states. Among all Israelis, at least 67 per cent were in favour.

However, the polls specified a list of conditions, including no right of return for Palestinians to Israel and land swaps that would leave large settlement blocs in the West Bank under Israeli sovereignty.

Matthew Kalman

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
One father who couldn't get One Direction tickets for his daughters phoned in a fake bomb threat and served eight months in a federal prison
people... (and one very unlucky giraffe)
Arts and Entertainment
Joel Edgerton, John Turturro and Christian Bale in Exodus: Gods and Kings
film
Arts and Entertainment
Brendan O'Carroll as Agnes Brown in the 2014 Mrs Brown's Boys Christmas special
tvCould Mrs Brown's Boys have taken lead for second year?
News
news
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
news
News
i100
Sport
Alexis Sanchez missed a penalty before scoring the opening goal with a header at the back post
footballLive! Sanchez makes up for penalty miss to put Arsenal ahead
Arts and Entertainment
Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz in Tim Burton's Big Eyes
film reviewThis is Tim Burton’s most intimate and subtle film for a decade
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Jack O'Connell stars as Louis Zamperini in Angelina Jolie's Unbroken
film review... even if Jack O'Connell is excellent
Arts and Entertainment
Madonna is not in Twitter's good books after describing her album leak as 'artistic rape and terrorism'
music14 more 'Rebel Heart' tracks leaked including Pharrell Williams collaboration
Sport
Rooney celebrates with striker-partner Radamel Falcao after the pair combine to put United ahead
footballManchester United vs Newcastle match report
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all