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Israeli Foreign Minister Suggests Boston-Based Consul Resign

This article is more than 10 years old.

The Israeli foreign minister says a Boston-based diplomat should resign for warning that government policy was causing a dangerous rift in Israel-U.S. ties.

The diplomat is Nadav Tamir, Israel's consul-general in Boston. In an internal memo leaked last week, he opined that Israel's public clashes with Washington over U.S. demands for a settlement freeze were causing "strategic damage to Israel."

"If someone is not happy and can't live with government policy, the way is not to criticize and leak but to resign," Avigdor Lieberman, the Israeli foreign minister, told a meeting of ministry officials Monday. "With all due respect to the consul ... it is not his job to express political positions."

President Obama has demanded a total halt to building in Israel's settlements in the West Bank. Israel has publicly rebuffed the demand, leading to the worst public clash between the two allies in nearly two decades.

The United States is Israel's most important backer, traditionally providing it with political support and large amounts of foreign aid.

Tamir was summoned to Israel from his posting in Boston for a consultation this week after his memo was leaked to Israel's Channel 10 TV.

"In the distance created between us and the U.S. administration, there are clear implications for Israel's deterrent capabilities," he wrote in the memo.

The diplomat also said: "There have always been differences between the governments, but coordination was always maintained. Now there is the feeling in Washington that Mr. Obama has to deal with obstinacy from the governments of Iran, North Korea and Israel."

The comments from Lieberman, who heads the ultranationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, were made public by his office.

Addressing the disagreement with the U.S. at a meeting with visiting Democratic members of the U.S. Congress on Monday, Israeli President Shimon Peres, whose role is largely ceremonial, said the gap on settlement construction can be bridged.

"This is the only point of disagreement really," Peres said. "I believe it's negotiable, and I believe through imagination and ingenuity, perhaps we can reach a solution."

This program aired on August 10, 2009. The audio for this program is not available.

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