Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced his intention on Monday to change current regulations so that only candidates who served in the IDF or National Service will be accepted to the ministry's diplomatic training course. Speaking at an internal meeting of top Foreign Ministry officials, Lieberman said that if the ministry's legal advisers rejected the policy, he would attempt to pass a bill on the issue. "It is unacceptable that someone representing the state will not take part in the duties imposed by the state," Lieberman said. Such a policy would force Arabs and haredim who are interested in working for the Foreign Ministry to do National Service and would mean Arabs currently employed by the ministry might not be able to keep their jobs. However, Lieberman's associates said an exception would be made for people who had not served in the army due to disabilities. At the meeting, Lieberman asked the ministry's administration to look into the possibility of only accepting candidates who had finished their academic degree with honors. He also expressed his preference for local diplomatic expertise, meaning that Israeli diplomats would gain experience in one state or region instead of being appointed to serve a different country every several years. Welfare and Social Services Minister Isaac Herzog, whose father Haim Herzog served as ambassador to the United Nations before he was president, demanded that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu call the foreign minister to order. "Lieberman's continuous intolerable statements undermine the government's image and achievements, primarily harming Netanyahu, who is away on an important diplomatic trip," Herzog said, referring to Netanyahu's four-day visit to the UK and Germany. "It should be made clear to Lieberman, who is motivated by a narrow political agenda, that his ongoing remarks are not in the state's best interest." Meretz leader Haim Oron went farther and called upon Netanyahu to fire Lieberman for policies that he said would isolate Israel in the international community. Jafar Farah, director of the Mossawa Center, the Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, said that since Arab Israelis cannot explain or defend the "racist incitement" coming out of the Foreign Ministry, they should not be seeking employment there in the first place. "Lieberman doesn't want us, and we don't want his jobs," said Farah. "There is already discrimination against the Arab population for not serving in the army," he continued. "In addition to the stipend that soldiers receive when they complete their military service, they also receive other privileges. For example, employers ask job applicants whether they have served in the army and the universities offer special terms, including scholarships, to former soldiers. Lieberman's plan constitutes double discrimination." But he added that, in effect, there was nothing new in the foreign minister's announcement. "The fact is that the percentage of Arabs in the civil service today is six percent, while Arabs make up 20% of the population," he pointed out. Israel has only three diplomats in the foreign service who did not serve in the IDF: Ambassador to Greece Ali Yihye and two Arab Christians, who recently graduated from the cadet course. Foreign Ministry legal adviser Ehud Keinan is expected to make a decision about the legality of such a change in consultation with the office of Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander. The Foreign Ministry's requirements are the same as other civil service positions. They bar any discrimination on the basis of ethnicity, sex and age. Meanwhile, Dan Yakir, the legal adviser of The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, wrote to Lieberman charging that it was "illegal to discriminate against anyone who did not serve in the army when it comes to hiring new employees." Since entering the foreign service is conditional on having passed the cadet course, refusal to accept anyone who did not perform military or national service is tantamount to refusing in advance to hire such people, he wrote. "This policy discriminates not only against Arabs and haredim, but also against those with physical or mental handicaps," wrote Yakir. Furthermore, he added, so long as there was no law making national service compulsory, the fact that someone performs it cannot be used as a condition for being accepted into the cadet course. Yakir added that making a distinction between those who evaded military service and those who were granted an exemption from military service was unacceptable. It would compel job applicants who had not served in the army to explain why, and to have to go into detail about their medical problems or systems of belief to justify the fact that they had not been conscripted. Yakir also warned Lieberman that his policy would encourage employers to violate the laws protecting the human rights of a large segment of the population. Lieberman's associates responded by accusing his critics of hypocrisy. "He was elected on a platform of advancing serving the state," a Lieberman associate said. "Everyone can do national service, so it doesn't disqualify anyone from being a diplomat. It makes sense that people who represent the state fulfill their obligations to it." Lieberman's associates noted that Lieberman appointed Ismail Khaldi, a Beduin who served in the IDF, as his diplomatic adviser.