‘Dividing Foreign Ministry Functions Will Harm Israel’

Diplomats in the Foreign Ministry voiced their condemnation to Arutz Sheva against the decision to distribute the authority over various functions of the ministry to different ministers in the government.

Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has been given the intelligence portfolio of the ministry, while Interior Minister Silvan Shalom was tasked with peace talks and Israel-US relations. Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan will be handed the fight against the BDS boycott movement, and along with Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz will also handle the Iran issue.

And all of that is aside from Tzipi Hotovely serving as Deputy Foreign Minister, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu holding the reins as de facto foreign minister.

"If a different minister receives authority for hasbara (public diplomacy – ed.) or the war against the anti-Israel movement, there's no doubt that harms us," diplomats in the Foreign Ministry told Arutz Sheva. "If we want to hold activities on campuses (in the US) and send speakers from Israel, there's a problem where the money for that will be taken from."

Noting a different problem with the arrangement, they noted, "if a foreign minister arrives in Israel…they will need to meet five ministers, the deputy minister and the prime minister to get a full picture on issues of foreign relations, and that will only cause problems."

"Also ministers who took over fields from the ministry and travel abroad will not update the deputy minister but only the prime minister, and that will harm our work," they warned.

One of the diplomats summarized the new status quo by saying, "there's no doubt that the authority here has been harmed, and that is expressed most meaningfully in terms of responsibility. They took from the ministry more fields than were taken in the term of Avigdor Liberman," who served as foreign minister in the last coalition.

The ministry also expressed disappointment that precisely one of the fields that it was tasked with until recently, namely the fight against the anti-Israel movement on US college campuses, was taken from its authority despite having made progress on the issue until now.

"The fragmentation of the ministry will only cause damage to Israel's foreign relations, and will in the end harm the state," warned the diplomats.

In response to the fragmentation, MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) announced Tuesday that he plans to submit a bill to clarify the powers and responsibilities of the Foreign Ministry, and avoid splitting the functions of the office.

Source: http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/195847

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