Lieberman summons envoy in U.S. over leaked rebuke of government
The Obama Administration has insisted that Israel freeze settlement activity in the West Bank. A significant Israeli diplomat dared to speak out on how Israel’s failure to implement a settlement freeze is hurting their relationship with their most important ally. He was recalled. Let’s keep an eye on what happens to Mr. Tamir.
By Barak Ravid, Haaretz, August 9, 2009
The Foreign Ministry on Saturday summoned for consultation a senior Israeli diplomat who in a confidential memo criticized the government for harming ties with the U.S. last week.
A ministry statement said that Israel’s consul-general in Boston, Nadav Tamir, would arrive in Jerusalem next week to give a clarification to the ministry’s director-general.
The memo, which was addressed to the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, stressed that the public spat with the U.S. over the issue of a settlements freeze has alienated a significant number of American Jewish supporters.
Tamir, a veteran well respected diplomat, wrote the memo under the heading “melancholy thoughts on Israel-U.S. relations.”
Tamir’s missive is considered unusual given the blunt, pointed nature of the criticism against the premier’s policies.
“The manner in which we are conducting relations with the American administration is causing strategic damage to Israel,” Tamir wrote. “The distance between us and the U.S. administration has clear consequences for Israeli deterrence.”
“There are American and Israeli political elements who oppose [U.S. President Barack] Obama on an ideological basis and who are ready to sacrifice the special relationship between the two countries for the sake of their own political agendas,” the consul general in Boston wrote.
“There has always been a discrepancy in the approaches of both states [on the issue of settlements], but there was always a level of coordination between the governments,” Tamir wrote. “Nowadays, there is a sense in the United States that Obama is forced to deal with the obduracy of the governments in Iran, North Korea, and Israel.”
“The administration is making an effort to lower the profile of the disagreements, and yet it is [Israel] that is the source which is highlighting the differences,” Tamir wrote.
Tamir accused Netanyahu of endangering American Jewish backing for Israel by publicly sparring with the Obama administration over construction of Jewish housing in the West Bank and East Jerusalem.
A spokesperson for Netanyahu issued a statement to Channel 10 which accused Tamir of violating protocol by expressing “political views” against the premier.
Tamir refused a Haaretz request for comment. The Israeli consulate in Boston said the memorandum is an internal Foreign Ministry document that was not for the media’s consumption.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor told the Associated Press late Thursday, “We don’t comment on leaked reports.”
In a bid to jumpstart the moribund Middle East peace process, the Obama administration has repeated its demand that Israel cease construction in West Bank settlements. The policy is a sharp departure from the tone and substance of Israel-U.S. relations during the presidency of George W. Bush.