Jerusalem: Israel's ambassador to Switzerland and two other diplomats, including one in India, face possible dismissal for Twitter posts seen as critical of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the Foreign Ministry said here 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 retested remarks by Israeli journalists disparaging Netanyahu's planned March 3 speech to the US Congress about Iran, an event that looks likely to deepen rift with the Obama administration.
President Barack Obama has already said that he would not meet Netanyahu during his trip to Washington.
One of the posts retreated by Caspi was by Haaretz's diplomatic correspondent Barak Ravid, which said, "Every time one thinks Netanyahu has taken the relationship with the White House to the lowest point ever, he manages to take it even lower." Another was posted by Themarker Deputy Editor Rotem Starkman, who criticized Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman party's new list.
The other two diplomats, Assaf Moran, a political officer in New Delhi, and Yaron Gamburg, a Foreign Ministry staffer in Jerusalem, appeared to have suspended their Twitter accounts today, Haaretz newspaper reported.
Israel's NRG news site quoted them as having tweeted direct criticisms of Netanyahu and Economy Minister Naftali Bennett.
One of the tweets reportedly said Bennett was "delusional right, messianic, violent, homophobe and anti-social."
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, the paper said.