JERUSALEM (JTA) — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has forbidden all government ministers from contacting the new administration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump.
A letter distributed to all cabinet members on Monday instructed government ministers to request permission to make contact through the Prime Minister’s Office or the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The letter was first reported by the Hebrew-language Walla news website.
“I would like to inform you that by the directive of the prime minister, the ministers and deputy ministers are required to not make any contact with the incoming U.S. administration, other than through the Prime Minister’s Office or the Israeli Embassy in Washington,” read the letter signed by Cabinet Secretary Tzachi Braverman. “I would be thankful for the immediate compliance with the prime minister’s said directive.”
Haaretz reported, citing an unnamed senior official in Jerusalem, that the letter comes after “an attempt by some unauthorized persons to meet with senior members in the new administration.”
The newspaper identified Naftali Bennett, Israel’s education minister and head of the Jewish Home party, who had planned to see Trump’s chief White House strategist Stephen Bannon at a dinner in New York, and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel of the Jewish Home party, who sent a congratulatory letter to Bannon that was published on the Breitbart news website, which Bannon used to helm.
Last week, Israeli Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer met with the president-elect and his senior advisors at Trump Tower in New York.
Immediately following Trump’s election, Netanyahu cautioned members of his government to stop publicly discussing the results.