FM asked Erdan about alleged political activity while ambassador

Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz spoke to Gilad Erdan after learning he sent a message summarizing his work as ambassador towards getting Israelis visa-free entry to the US.

Israeli Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 25, 2021.  (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israeli Ambassador to the US and the UN Gilad Erdan at a meeting with US Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, May 25, 2021.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)

Ambassador to the UN Gilad Erdan has been asked to account for alleged political activities conducted earlier this month, diplomatic sources confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Wednesday.

Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz spoke to Erdan after learning that the envoy sent a mass text message in his final days as ambassador to Washington inviting people to read a Facebook post describing his “many meetings and discussions with government figures and the President of the US” to work towards a visa-free agreement between America and Israel.

“I’m happy to report that by the beginning of 2023, Israeli citizens are expected to get the [visa] exemption!” he wrote. “Click and share, Shabbat shalom!”

Among the thousands of contacts receiving the message were members of the Likud, the party in which Erdan was a lawmaker and minister before former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu appointed him to represent Israel at the UN.

Ushpiz asked for clarifications, as first reported on Channel 12 News, after receiving inquiries about the messages, from people alleging that the ambassador was engaging in political activities.

 Ambassador Gilad Erdan October 19, 2021 (credit: COURTESY ISRAEL'S UN MISSION IN NEW YORK) Ambassador Gilad Erdan October 19, 2021 (credit: COURTESY ISRAEL'S UN MISSION IN NEW YORK)

A source with knowledge of the matter said that Erdan sent out the text message after he had received many queries about the visa issue from personal contacts, and that he did not use Foreign Ministry funds to do so.

The Foreign Ministry was also concerned about an interview Erdan gave to Israel Hayom last weekend, in which he was presented as a potential candidate for the Likud leadership – a scenario that has long been considered likely. In comments before he became an ambassador, it is something to which Erdan himself said he aspires.

However, the interview does not include any quotes from Erdan discussing Likud or domestic politics, only the writer’s analysis on that front.

The Foreign Ministry plans to bring its issues with Erdan to the Civil Service Commission to see if he broke any rules, Channel 12 reported.

Sources close to Erdan said that he “acts day and night to represent Israel at the UN in a statesmanlike way and in the best way possible, and his actions are highly appreciated.”

The Foreign Ministry declined to comment.