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'Mass Exodus' of Foreign Ministry Officials

Yigal Palmor, veteran MFA spokesman, reportedly considering retirement. Is this the latest in a string of resignations?
By Tova Dvorin
First Publish: 5/27/2014, 10:42 AM

Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusalem
Foreign Ministry employees strike in Jerusalem
Flash90

Veteran Foreign Ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor will resign in the near future, Maariv/NRG reports Tuesday, sparking concerns over an exodus of senior officials in the office over the past several years. 

Among those who left recently are Ran Curiel, Vice Director of Israel's European office; Amos Nidai, former ambassador to Beijing; Ilan Maor, Israeli envoy in Shanghai; Lior Weintraub, Chief of Staff in the Washington office; and Yaki Dayan, head of the Los Angeles branch.

The Foreign Ministry maintained Tuesday that each official - including Palmor, if the reports are true - has left "for his own reasons." Nevertheless, an anonymous MFA official stated, "there is a definite phenomenon here." 

Palmor, 53 and a Foreign Ministry official for 28 years, has been a key player in Israel's foreign relations and is, to some extent, the "face" of Israel in the foreign media. Palmor has served as the official spokesman for the Ministry since 2008; he was a deputy spokesman since the mid-90s and also completed what is described as "an important mission" in Spain in the interim. 

Sources in the Foreign Ministry said that Palmor felt exhausted after so many years in the role, and the "consistent weakening" of the Ministry's status, especially in issues pertaining to advocacy and public diplomacy, has pushed him to retire.

Palmor also reportedly takes issue with the political leadership of Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud), prompting a change of heart after decades of public service. 

Analysts also point to the Prime Minister's National Information Directorate, established after the Second Lebanon War, as a culprit in the decision. The move severely lessened the MFA's spokesperson's presence in Ministry affairs, as advocacy roles were slowly transferred to people in other positions. 

Besides the trend affecting veteran employees, the Foreign Ministry is also concerned by a mass exodus of its younger officials - due mainly, it says, to wage disputes and the recent strikes.

Over 1/3 of new Foreign Ministry workers leave the Ministry within three years, statistics show - leading to a downward spiral in supply and demand for the government jobs.