Published On: Thu, Mar 26th, 2015

Israeli Diplomats Suspended for Belligerent Anti-Netanyahu Tweets Reinstated Pending Investigation

The temporary return to position indicates that the affair may end with a less severe punishment.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

By Eliyahu Berkowitz

The twittering diplomatic affair development: three employees of the Israeli Foreign Ministry posted on their Twitter accounts about the prime minister, the foreign minister and the government, and when their tweets were exposed by Ma’ariv, they were temporarily removed from their posts.

Now the Foreign Ministry decided to return them to their positions until the end of the inquiry into the matter. The three underwent a hearing prior to dismissal before a comptroller of the office, as dictated by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

However, the temporary return to position indicates that the affair may end with a less severe punishment. It should be noted that following the exposure, another reminder was sent to all employees of the Ministr,  which applies to all civil servants and diplomats in particular, not to express themselves politically in the media or in public, neither in favor of the government nor against it.

According to the law and the regulations of the civil service, public sector workers are categorically forbidden to take a political stand. When it comes to foreign office employees, who express the views of Israel in front of  the world, this issue is especially sensitive. Some employees even used their official accounts, which could actually harm government policy.

Immediately after publication, it was decided to suspend the diplomats who attacked the government and the state. They were returned to Israel and summoned to a hearing prior to dismissal.

“It cannot be that those who should represent the country write things like this about the prime minister, the ministers and government policy, ” said the Foreign Ministry. “They can do this as individuals but not while they are civil servants who are supposed to represent us to the world”.

A prominent example is the Israeli ambassador to Bern, Yigal Caspi, who vented his views without fear. Caspi used a private account but identified himself by his diplomatic title. With a long list of quotes from others, especially journalists, he took a clear political stand – including mocking Knesset members and ministers, including his boss for the last six years, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

Asaf Moran, who handled political affairs at the Israeli Embassy in New Delhi, also failed to maintain diplomatic neutrality on his Twitter account, citing critical opinions and negative publicity about Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Moran quoted public relations man Moshe Gaon and wrote, “Netanyahu understood that he needs to do anything in order not to talk about social issues. Whining, corruption, Sarah, associations, defense, everything, just not an agenda that replaces the ruling party.”

Yaron Gamburg, a former spokesman for the Israeli Embassy in Paris, tweeted, among other things, the following: “I heard Bennett complain that the media digs into him because he’s right. Poor thing … he is the fringe right, messianic, violent, homophobic and anti-social. So what does he want ??” And, “What is happening in our relations with the US is crazy. All our enemies will watch and draw conclusions accordingly.”

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