Israeli diplomats recalled over tweets seen as critical of Netanyahu

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech during a memorial ceremony for former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon at Sycamore Ranch near the town of Sderot, marking the one-year anniversary of Sharon’s death January 29, 2015. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

JERUSALEM (Reuters)Israel’s ambassador to Switzerland and two other diplomats face possible dismissal for Twitter posts seen as critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Ministry said on Thursday.

The disciplining of the three comes amid heightened Israeli public scrutiny over the impartiality of civil servants before a March 17 election that is widely seen as a referendum on the right-wing Netanyahu, now in his third term.

Yigal Caspi, the envoy to Bern, had retweeted remarks by Israeli journalists disparaging Netanyahu’s planned March 3 speech to the U.S. Congress about Iran, an event that looks likely to deepen rifts with the Obama administration.

The other two diplomats, a political officer in New Delhi and a Foreign Ministry staffer in Jerusalem, appeared to have suspended their Twitter accounts on Thursday.

Israel’s NRG news site quoted them as having tweeted direct criticisms of Netanyahu.

A Foreign Ministry spokesman said the NRG report was accurate and that the three diplomats had been summoned for disciplinary hearings that could conclude with their firing.

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