Israel's Chief of Protocol Summoned After Telling Haaretz Who Turned 'Mrs. Netanyahu' Into 'First Lady'

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, meets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, meets U.S. Vice President Mike Pence.Credit: Haim Tzach/ GPO
Noa Landau
Noa Landau

Meron Reuben, chief of state protocol in the Foreign Ministry, has been summoned to clarify procedures after a conversation he had with Haaretz reporter Nir Gontarz was published without the approval of the ministry's spokesperson.

Gontarz, who publishes a weekly column consisting of telephone conversations with politicians, officials and other public figures on matters issues pertaining to the public's right to know, contacted Reuben to ask why Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara, was described as the country's "First Lady" during U.S. Vice President Mike Pence's visit - despite the fact that no such status exists in Israel.

Meron Reuben.Credit: RONEN ZVULUN / AP

In their conversation, the chief of state protocol was asked why the Prime Minister's Office chose to use the misleading term, especially given that Mrs. Netanyahu is the spouse of the prime minister and not the president. In reply, Reuben told Gontarz that as far as he knew, "there are two terms: 'the prime minister's wife' and 'the president's wife.' We don't have a First, Second or Third Lady. Maybe the Prime Minister's Office has begun using new terms."

Reuben went on to add: "I don't recall signing off on anything that has 'First Lady' written on it, unless it refers to the wife of the president of the United States."

After the conversation between the chief of protocol and Haaretz was published, Reuben was asked, according to sources at the Foreign Ministry, "to keep a low profile."

Reuben's meeting will in all likelihood be with Director General Yuval Rotem, but a final decision has yet to be made. His conversation with Haaretz and the implications thereof will be closely examined in the talk, the sources added. 

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