The days of the imposing stretch limousines and fuel-guzzling motorcades of foreign diplomats may be over.
Ambassador to the US Sallai Meridor has announced that all current diplomatic vehicles were to be replaced by environment-friendly hybrid SUVs. The change, which does not go into effect until this fall, will include Israel's vehicles in each of its nine consulates across the US as well as those serving the UN in New York.
In a statement issued to the press, Meridor explained that "reducing oil dependence and protecting the environment are key factors in improving international security."
Meridor's spokesman told The Jerusalem Post via e-mail that "there is a growing awareness of the importance of energy independence in the West and the US in particular in light of security threats from the Middle East. Israel is also keenly aware of the environmental impact and the danger of global warming. This step is just another example of Israel's time honored commitment to conservation of natural resources and protection of the environment."
This move will make Israel one of the first foreign services in the US to commit to petroleum reduction across its fleet. Meridor's spokesman added that the scope of the foreign service's shift to "green" vehicles encompassed only North America at this time.
The shift to environment-friendly vehicles is also under way domestically. Avi Moshel, the deputy head of the air quality division of the Environmental Protection Ministry, told the Post that "what we are trying to do in Israel is make a more beneficial, [environmentally] friendly car. We have reduced the amount of taxes on hybrid cars from 84 percent to 30%," he said, indicating that at this time, the price reduction applied only to smaller hybrid cars, such as the Toyota Prius or the Honda Civic.
This comes on the heels of the recent Live Earth campaign that took place locally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square and at the Jerusalem Cinematheque. There had been disappointment among some organizers that the government had not played a more active role in sponsoring the event.