Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu banned government ministers from speaking with President-elect Donald Trump or members of his administration.
Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman sent a letter on Monday to ministers instructing them not to speak with the nascent government.
The letter instructed ministers that all contact must be either through the Prime Minister’s Office or the Israeli Embassy in Washington.
This highly unusual move follows the publication of a letter on Saturday written by Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) to Stephen Bannon on the Breitbart website. Ariel thanked Bannon for his support of and friendship with Israel.
Ariel specifically mentioned Bannon’s opposition to the Iran nuclear agreement, his opposition to BDS boycotts of Israel, and Breitbart opening a Jerusalem bureau “to promote Israeli points of view in the media.”
— Tal Shalev (@talshalev1) November 21, 2016
Bannon, who was appointed as President-elect Donald Trump’s chief strategist, has been roundly condemned by many Israeli and Jewish groups for his alleged support of the white nationalist alt-right movement.
Last week, as the results of the election were announced, Netanyahu instructed his government not to speak publicly about the new president-elect. However the instruction was issued only after several right-wing ministers had praised Trump in the media for his supposed support for Israeli activity in East Jerusalem and the West Bank, as well as his promise to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem.
Netanyahu himself congratulated Trump shortly after the results were announced.
“The bond between the US and Israel is based on shared values, shared interests and a shared future. I am sure that President-elect Trump and I will continue to strengthen the special alliance between Israel and the US and we will bring them to new heights,” he said.
The prime minister also released a video after the election congratulating Trump.
Israeli ambassador to the US Ron Dermer met with Trump in New York on Thursday, and declared that Jerusalem was looking forward to working with his entire team — including Bannon.
“Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel,” Dermer told reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue.