Israeli civil servants promoted Netanyahu's deal with Mofaz to international community
Israeli ambassador to U.S. and two Israeli government spokesmen praised Netanyahu's unity government deal with Kadima on YouTube and Twitter, even though they are prohibited from dealing with partisan politics.
Two of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's spokesmen, along with Israel's ambassador to Washington Michael Oren, have been working in recent days to promote to the foreign press the deal Netanyahu had brokered, which brought the opposition party Kadima into the government.
As civil servants, officials in the National Information Directorate and Israeli ambassadors are barred from dealing with partisan affairs.
On Wednesday, Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev uploaded a short video to YouTube in which he praised Kadima's entrance into the government. Regev, who is a civil servant but was also Netanyahu's personal appointment, posted the video on his Twitter account, which is considered an official account of the Israeli government spokesman.
In the 17-second video Regev said, "I think we all hope this new national unity government in Israel will allow us, as a government, to better express the unity that there is in the Israeli people on the core issues: for peace, for stability and for economic growth."
The prime minister's spokesperson to the Arab media, Ofir Gendelman, has recorded a similar video in Arabic, which he uploaded to YouTube and also posted on his Twitter account, which is also an official government account. Gendelman is also a civil servant, but he is not Netanyahu's personal appointment - he works in the National Information Directorate, and deals solely with state matters.
While millions in Arab states have been struggling for more than a year for democracy and against the autocratic rule in their countries, Gendelman explained to them why Israel's new broad 94-member coalition is a positive development, which will help advance the peace process with the Palestinians. Gendelman also explained to the Arab public that Israelis do not even want elections.
In the video, which is a little more than a minute long, Gendelman said, "I am sure that you were surprised from the establishment of a national unity government and were expecting early elections in Israel. But it is important that you know that the Israeli public does not want these elections and there was never a reason to hold them. We now established a broad coalition composed of 94 Knesset members out of 120. In this way, we could best deal with all the challenges that Israel faces. We would like to push forward the peace process with the Palestinians, and the Palestinian leadership must take advantage of this opportunity in order to return to the negotiating table without preconditions."
Following an inquiry by Haaretz, an initial examination into the matter was conducted, and ultimately the Prime Minister's Office issues the following statement: "The matter was a private initiative by the spokesmen for the foreign press in the National Information Directorate, which was not approved by their superiors. The spokesmen's intention was to explain the significance of the establishment of the unity government. Following your inquiry, the videos were removed and an examination will take place to ensure the incident will not repeat itself."
However, not only Netanyahu's spokesmen for the foreign press promoted the political deal in the international community – Israel's ambassador to Washington Michael Oren did so as well.
Oren, a historian who authored a best-seller book on the Six Day War, defined Shaul Mofaz's move for political survival as no less than an "historic achievement."
Oren wrote on his Twitter page: "Mazal tov to PM Netanyahu and Deputy PM Mofaz on forming a National Unity Government. This is an historic achievement for Israel."
The blog of Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent, taking a deeper look behind the scenes of Israeli politics and foreign policy.