FM: Diplomats Need IDF Past

Foreign Minster Lieberman said that from now on he wants career diplomats who have served in the IDF or performed national service.

Yehudah Lev Kay ,

Israel News photo / Flash 90

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman told Foreign Ministry staff Monday that from now on he wants career diplomats to meet a new criterion – past service in the IDF or national service.

The decision would bar most Israeli-Arabs and hareidi religious Jews from joining the diplomatic corp, because most of them do not serve in the army or perform national service, despite government efforts to convince them to do so. However, there are exceptions, and most Bedouin and Druze Israelis serve in the army. 

Someone who wants to represent the country overseas has to fulfill his national duty,” Lieberman said at a senior Foreign Ministry staff meeting. “If someone from the Hareidi or Arab sector wants to join the diplomatic corps, they can join the army or perform national service.”

Lieberman's announcement comes a day after he said he would implement far-reaching reforms in the Foreign Ministry. It also came after his party, Yisrael Beiteinu, failed to pass the "Loyalty law" in May that would have required all citizens to perform army or national service.

Foreign Ministry officials told Lieberman that his new idea might not have sufficient legal backing, to which Lieberman replied that he would author legislation mandating the new criterion for career diplomats if necessary.

Also at the meeting, Lieberman recommended that career diplomats specialize in one area of the world, rather than switch from one embassy to another every few years, as they currently do. He also proposed that the Foreign Ministry proactively search out candidates for the diplomatic corp among academics, young workers in the private sector and government officials in other ministries.