A group of senior ambassadors led by Israel’s envoy to the UN Ron Prosor reportedly protested the timing of the government’s December announcement to renew building in the controversial E1 corridor in the West Bank between East Jerusalem and Ma’aleh Adumim.
The diplomats were promptly stiffly rebuked by National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror, Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday.
The incident occurred Monday at the Foreign Ministry’s annual ambassadors’ conference in Jerusalem, where 160 ambassadors and consul heads were gathered. Prosor, after hearing Amidror’s speech on international security and political threats to Israel, reportedly asked about the logic behind the timing of the E1 announcement, which came on the heels of the UN’s late-November recognition of Palestine as a nonmember observer state and garnered strong international condemnation.
Prosor’s question was greeted with a torrent of applause from the assembled ambassadors, but Amidror reportedly responded coldly, admonishing the crowd for approving a question that questioned government policy.
“There is no way that State Department [officials] would cheer for a question that implies criticism of the policies of President Obama,” Amidror said. He explained that the E1 announcement was intended to make clear to the Palestinians that there was a “price to pay” for their unilateral decision to approach the UN.
Foreign Ministry Deputy Director-General Ran Curiel replied that the clapping was not an expression of doubt at the wisdom of government policy, but was rather a sign of frustration because “we want to explain the government’s policy but are not always given the tools.”
“Gentlemen, do not be confused,” Amidror reportedly retorted. “You are representatives of the government. If it’s inconvenient for you, go into politics or resign… Our role is to advise, and later leaders make the decisions. If you have thoughts about policy issues, you can express them in a closed forum.”
A disgruntled official told Yedioth after the event, “Prosor asked a perfectly legitimate question and got a bucket of cold water thrown in his face. It’s our duty to represent the state, but anyone who represents the state has to understand the motivation behind decisions.”