The Foreign Ministry's director general, Dore Gold, on Thursday banned all Israeli diplomats in Israel and abroad from holding contacts with Israeli journalists, in the wake of a Haaretz report that Arab states would not seek a vote regarding Israel's nuclear arms at next month's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) meeting in Vienna.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, a senior Foreign Ministry official told Haaretz late on Thursday that Gold became furious when he saw the report and convened an urgent meeting in his office.
He reportedly raged over what he called a "leak," even though most of the information in the report was unclassified. The report had cited a cable sent to several Israeli embassies abroad.
At the end of the meeting Gold ordered the release of new rules forbidding any contact with the Israeli media, but did not extend the ban to the foreign press. Following the meeting, Gilad Cohen, the deputy director general, and Emanuel Nahshon, the ministry spokesman, sent a telegram to all Foreign Ministry workers in Israel and abroad containing the new rules.
"In light of recent events, in which unauthorized contact with Israeli journalists was made, we seek to repeat and refine the rule," the letter stated in a copy obtained by Haaretz.
"No contact is to be made by ministry workers in Israel or abroad with any representatives of the Israeli press. In any request by an Israeli journalist you must turn to the ministry spokesman and receive instructions," it added.
The move was criticized by MK Nachman Shai (Zionist Union), who heads the caucus for the strengthening of Israel's diplomatic relations.
"Hysteria is running wild at the Foreign Ministry," said Shai, according to Haaretz. "What has been left there, after they stripped [the ministry] of its power and responsibilities? To fight in the media. This is ridiculous and sad."