In the wake of the Goldstone Report on Operation Cast Lead, the IDF and Foreign Ministry are increasing their cooperation and held this week a first of its kind joint seminar for diplomats and military officers.
The five-day seminar, held at the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem, was attended by 15 mid-level officers from most IDF branches, including the Air Force, Ground Forces Command, Military Intelligence, the IDF Spokesperson's Office and the Planning Division. On the Foreign Ministry side, 15 mid-level deputy department heads participated.
The seminar included several simulations and workshops to see how the sides jointly manage various crises and interact with international organizations. The main goal is to create a mechanism that will enable the sides to work together more effectively in the future in promoting Israel's international standing.
The seminar was the brainchild of Ofer Aviran, the head of the Personnel Training Department in the Foreign Ministry, who formerly served as the diplomatic liaison to the IDF's Planning Division.
Until now, the only direct interaction between the IDF and the ministry has been at the National Security Council, which is attended by only a few ministry employees a year. The plan is to hold the seminar on an annual basis.
"We want the sides to better understand one another," explained a Foreign Ministry official. "This way they will know how the decision-making processes work on each side and help each other out in the future."
During the seminar the IDF officers visited the Foreign Ministry's "Situation Room" and the Foreign Ministry officials visited the Kirya Military Headquarters in Tel Aviv. The sides also discussed ways to improve the working relationship between diplomats and military attaches stationed abroad.
The ministry and the IDF have been working together most recently on compiling an Israeli report that will counter the accusations leveled against the IDF in the Goldstone Report.
"We want everyone to understand the legitimacy of Israel's war on terror," the Foreign Ministry official said. "We need to increase the awareness in the IDF regarding the importance of diplomacy and on the flip side to understand military constraints and needs."