FM fumes over Boston consul's remarks

Move follows Boston envoy saying PM's US policy harming strategic ties between Washington, J'lem.

By HAVIV RETTIG GUR, HERN KEINON
August 6, 2009 22:29
2 minute read.
FM fumes over Boston consul's remarks

Netanyahu 248.88. (photo credit: AP)

 
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Israel's consul-general in New England has been summoned home to "clarify" a letter he wrote to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman blasting Israeli policy toward the Obama administration. According to a senior Foreign Ministry official, Nadav Tamir, consul in Boston, "is one of our best and smartest, so this is embarrassing to the whole ministry." According to Channel 10, to which Tamir's letter was leaked last week, the diplomat's criticism was severe, including an allegation that Israeli policy toward the Obama administration was being developed not to serve Israel's interests, but those of Obama's domestic opponents. "There are people in the US and Israeli politics who ideologically oppose [US President Barack] Obama, and are willing to sacrifice the special relationship between the two countries in order to advance their political agenda," Tamir was quoted as writing in the blunt three-page letter. Titled "Sad passing thoughts on Israeli-US relations," Tamir's comments were "out of bounds" for a serving diplomat, said Foreign Ministry officials. "We expect from our diplomats abroad to point out weaknesses in our policy, lacunae, but they do so in a constructive way in confidential memos to the deputy director-general, not in public," said a senior ministry official. In the wake of the publication of the letter on Channel 10, Lieberman ordered Tamir to return to Jerusalem to "clarify" his actions to ministry director-general Yossi Gal. The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement saying Tamir's letter was "not worthy of a response." A senior official, meanwhile, said the letter was "unprofessional," and suggested that its title and the fact that it was leaked to the media show it was meant to make Tamir's political opinions public. "It is a unfortunate that an Israeli diplomat launched this type of an attack on Israel policies, attempting to cause deliberate harm," the official said. Tamir outlined in the letter what he saw as a "damaging" policy by the current government. "The way in which we are conducting the relationship with the US government is causing Israel strategic damage. The distance created between us and the Obama administration has clear implications on Israeli deterrence," Channel 10 quoted from the letter. The perception of a conflict between Israel and the Obama administration was harming American public support for Israel, Tamir insisted, saying this caused Israel more damage than the Second Lebanon War or Operation Cast Lead. He blamed the deterioration of ties on narrow political considerations among some Israelis and Americans, who were using Israeli policy to harm the Obama administration, then took the government to task for making US-Israeli differences public at a time when Washington was trying to downplay them. "There have always been differences in the stances of the two countries, but the governments were careful to make sure they were coordinated," he reportedly wrote. According to Tamir, many in the US were now lumping Israel together with Iran and North Korea as wayward governments that Obama had to deal with. The current situation, he said, is hurting American Jewry as well. "The atmosphere of confrontation between the Israeli government and the Obama administration puts the American-Jewish community, which is so important to us, in a difficult position," he wrote. "Many of them are distancing themselves from the State of Israel because of this conflict." AP contributed to this report.

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