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Government to appoint 35 diplomats delayed by Netanyahu for over 6 months

Ministers will finally approve ambassadors and consuls general to take up their posts in Israel’s short-staffed diplomatic missions

Illustrative: Russian police guards outside the Israeli embassy in Moscow, on September 18, 2018. (AFP / Vasily MAXIMOV)
Illustrative: Russian police guards outside the Israeli embassy in Moscow, on September 18, 2018. (AFP / Vasily MAXIMOV)

The cabinet on Sunday will vote to approve the appointment of 35 ambassadors and consuls general whose postings had been held up by former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for over half a year.

Earlier this month a petition was filed to the High Court of Justice, urging it to force the then-prime minister to explain why he had not approved the appointments, which left one-third of Israel’s diplomatic missions short-staffed.

Over the past half a year, Foreign Ministry employees reached out to Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and then-foreign minister Gabi Ashkenazi several times, urging them to bring the appointments before the cabinet for approval, the petition said.

While Gantz had supported moving forward with the approval, under the previous coalition agreements between himself and Netanyahu both of them were required to approve such diplomatic appointments. The terms of the agreement remained in place even after their coalition fell apart last year, and were only invalidated when a new government was sworn in on Sunday.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz and outgoing prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen at the Knesset plenum, June 13, 2021 (Noam Moskowitz/Knesset)

Under the new government, the appointments will finally be brought for approval on Sunday.

New Foreign Minister Yair Lapid accused Netanyahu of leaving the diplomatic corps in shambles, as he took his post Monday.

The new government, an unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist, and Islamist parties, ended Netanyahu’s 12-year term in office.

Also Sunday, ministers will vote to extend Lt. Gen. Aviv Kohavi’s tenure as head of the Israel Defense Forces for an additional year, and are set to approve a proposal to establish a state commission of inquiry into the Mount Meron crush.

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