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Diplomat warns Israel will pay ‘heavy price’ for US row

Foreign Ministry’s director-general says two countries must mend ties in order to tackle security, diplomatic issues

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, and President Barack Obama embrace at a ceremony welcoming the US leader at Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv, on March 20, 2013 (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

Foreign Ministry’s Director-General Nissim Ben Shitrit sent a letter Wednesday to Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, warning that Israel may “pay a heavy price” for the “severe, ongoing and public crisis” with the US, Haaretz reported Thursday.

Ben Shitrit urged Liberman to initiate an Israeli move aimed at quickly mending ties with the US.

According to Haaretz, which obtained a copy of Ben Shitrit’s letter titled “Diplomatic challenges and new arrangements by the Foreign Ministry,” the director-general detailed the diplomatic staff’s position on a series of issues Israel will need to tackle as soon as a new government is established. The director general wrote that tight coordination with the US is crucial for Israel’s capability to cope with the diplomatic and security challenges it faces.

A French proposal to upgrade the status of Palestinians at the United Nations from an observer state to a full member is at the top of the list of diplomatic challenges, followed by Palestinian threats to act against Israel at the International Criminal Court at the Hague, and pressure on Israel to reveal its nuclear capabilities from hostile states’ delegates at the IAEA, according to Ben Shitrit.

In the security arena, Ben Shitrit wrote that the rearming of Hezbollah, and military assessments that a new round of violence in the north was imminent, require “critical and urgent care.”

“Coping properly with this issue, if not done in tight coordination with the US, is an almost impossible mission,” Ben Shitrit concluded.

The crisis between the two countries centers on irreconcilable differences of opinion between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and US President Barack Obama, now publicly at odds over the emerging nuclear deal between the P5+1 world powers and Iran. Some pundits have assessed that the leaders’ lack of personal chemistry also contributes to the dissonance in the two countries’ official view of negotiations with Iran.

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