Israel envoy questions new settlements

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Israel’s UN envoy was applauded by fellow Israeli diplomats when he questioned the timing of recent Israeli settlement announcements, which have been highly controversial internationally and condemned as “counterproductive” by the Untied States.

Israeli ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, attending the annual gathering of 160 Israeli ambassadors and chiefs of mission in Israel Monday, asked Israeli National Security advisor Yaakov Amidror “what was the rationale behind timing the decision to promote construction in area E1…after the UN resolution to upgrade the Palestinian Authority to an observer state status,” YNet.com’s Itamar Eichner reported Tuesday.

“Prosor's fellow ambassadors, who found it difficult to explain to the world the basis of Israel's foreign policy on the matter, applauded Prosor,” the Ynet report continued.

Amdiror, however, rebuked the diplomat for questioning government policy.

“Gentlemen, do not be confused,” the Israeli national security advisor responded, according to the YNet repot. “You are the government's representatives. If that doesn't suit you: either go into politics or resign.”

Israeli officials “are all clerks,” Amidror reportedly continued. “Our job is to advise, but in the end it is up to the political leaders to make the decisions. If you think there are problems with the policies you can express your concerns behind closed doors.”

An Israeli diplomat downplayed the exchange to the Back Channel.

“Amidror's response was silly,” the official, speaking not for attribution, told the Back Channel by email Tuesday. “What else is supposed to happen after top level briefings if not questions? How better a way for us to work through the issues and better prepare for our work?”

“At the same time, there are elections around the corner and individuals … are advancing personal and collective agendas and take every opportunity to sculpt every event in a way they think (probably wrongly!) will serve their ‘cause,’” he continued. “Amidror should also realize that he isn't a soldier (anymore) and in civil society it is desirable that people ask questions.”

(Photo of Israel's ambassador to the United Nations Ron Prosor, Reuters.)

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