A number of local hires at one of Israel's most important embassies in the world - the embassy in London - were given jobs not because of professional expertise, but rather because of 'protexia,' the State Comptroller wrote in a brief section on the goings-on at the London Embassy.
According to the report, the hiring over the last several years of a number of local Israeli employees raised concern that they were not "always hired on their merits, but rather on their closeness or connection to people in Israel, or that they were not hired according to proper criterion."
In addition, the comptroller found that turnover of personnel at the embassy was not always done in an orderly fashion. For instance, between June and September 2006, no fewer than four of the eight foreign ministry employees at the embassy were replaced, as was the military attache, the trade attache and the deputy security officer.
"The turnover at one time of such a large part of the staff is not desirable, since it will likely make continuity more difficult," the report read.
The report also pointed out the exaggerated payment of some 265,000 pounds for tuition fees for children of employees at the embassy.
As a result of this huge sum, the report said there was place to hold an interministerial discussion on a tuition ceiling for dependents of government workers abroad before the start of the school year.
The report also took the embassy to task for the following shortcomings:
Not sending orderly work plans to the Foreign Ministry, or quarterly reports to the Foreign Ministry of the embassy's activities, including its hasbara efforts.
Difficulties in funding and in the operation of the four hasbara centers in Britain.
Raising donations from private sources to pay for Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations, a practice the comptroller has in the past deemed "problematic."
Not properly maintaining the embassy building that has been in need of refurbishment and maintenance for the last 12 years.
An embassy official in London said in response to the report that, "The limited criticism in the State Comptroller's report does not refer primarily to the embassy itself, but rather to the workings of our headquarters at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Jerusalem vis- a- vis missions abroad. The MFA has responded fully to these comments within the report itself.
"To address some specific criticisms: The question of tuition fees for diplomats' children being paid by the State of Israel is a non-issue. Under Israeli law, all children are entitled to a free education. On the matter of raising donations for Yom Ha'atzmaut celebrations, that has been the norm for Israeli missions all over the world until this year. The criticism about the state of the premises and the need for refurbishment is one we share, since we ourselves have to spend our working day in this 150-year-old building. Finally, regarding the number of new diplomats that started at the same time last summer: This decision was made by the MFA in Jerusalem and has nothing to do with any separate recruitment policy of the embassy.
In addition, the embassy has no influence on the identity of staff arriving to the embassy from Israel. The embassy can only independently recruit local, junior personnel, and their applications must also go through a committee before they are accepted."
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