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High Court petition against PM urges appointment of 35 ambassadors, consuls

Movement for Quality Government and a union of Foreign Ministry employees claim that leaving a third of Israel’s diplomatic missions short-staffed ‘endangers’ Israelis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and  newly appointed ambassador to the UN and the US Gilad Erdan attend the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on July 5, 2020.  (Amit Shabi/POOL)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and newly appointed ambassador to the UN and the US Gilad Erdan attend the weekly cabinet meeting, at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem on July 5, 2020. (Amit Shabi/POOL)

The Movement for Quality Government and a union of Foreign Ministry employees filed a petition to the High Court of Justice Thursday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for holding up the appointment of 35 ambassadors and consuls general for over half a year.

The petition urges the court to issue an order forcing Netanyahu to explain why he has not approved the appointments, which could leave one-third of Israel’s diplomatic missions short-staffed.

The petitioners argue that the current situation significantly harms Israel’s diplomatic efforts, “endangers the citizens of the country living abroad” and raises the suspicion that the premier has “ulterior motives.”

Over the past half a year, Foreign Ministry employees reached out to Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi several times, urging them to bring the appointments before the government for its approval, the petition says.

The vast majority of the appointees are set to take up their posts in the coming months, but cannot do so without government approval.

The petitioners claim that while Gantz and Ashkenazi expressed their support for the appointments, Netanyahu never responded to their requests.

Gantz penned a letter to the petitioners, which was attached to their appeal, in which he blasted the “arbitrary and irresponsible refusal of the prime minister.”

The coalition agreement between Netanyahu and Gantz last year requires both of them to approve such diplomatic appointments. The terms of the agreement have remained in place since their coalition fell apart less than a year later, but will be invalidated if a new government is sworn in, possibly as soon as next week.

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