Envoy, Civil Servants Praise New Gov't Online

Israel's ambassador to the United States and two government spokesmen have used the Internet to praise Benjamin Netanyahu's unity government deal with Kadima, despite the fact that as civil servants they are not allowed express partisan political views.

On Wednesday, government spokesman Mark Regev uploaded a clip to YouTube lauding Kadima's move to join the government. Regev, who is a civil servant, posted the clip to his Twitter account, which is considered an official account of the Israeli government spokesman.

In the 17-second clip 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."

Meanwhile, the prime minister's spokesperson to the Arab media, Ofir Gendelman, posted a similar clip in Arabic to YouTube and also posted it on his Twitter account, also an official account.

Gendelman said Israel's broad new 94-member coalition is a positive development, which will help advance the peace process with the Palestinians. In the minute-long clip, Gendelman said: "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," Gendelman said.

Following a query by Haaretz, the Prime Minister's Bureau looked into the matter and issued a statement that the postings were a "private initiative" and that the spokesmen had not received approval from their superiors. "The spokesmen's intention was to explain the significance of the establishment of the unity government. Following your inquiry, the clips were removed and an examination will take place to ensure the incident will not recur."

Israel's ambassador to Washington Michael Oren also posted a pro-unity government message to his Twitter feed: "Mazal tov to PM Netanyahu and Deputy PM Mofaz on forming a National Unity Government. This is an historic achievement for Israel," he wrote.