Last week could have proven very difficult for Israel. Our enemies and their
provocateur partners were trying once again to damage our image and goad Israel
into a confrontation.
Thankfully, diligent behind-the-scenes work with our
partners in Europe and beyond saw to it that a collision was
This is no simple task; individuals and small organizations are
far more nimble than vast government infrastructures, and are extremely
difficult to outmaneuver.
Nevertheless, what was achieved last week was
not the result of last-minute diplomacy; but rather evidence of a shift in
diplomacy which began at the inception of this government.
should be nurtured, but for too many years, Israel’s foreign policy was heavily
focused on Ramallah. Since the formation of this government, the Ministry of
Foreign Affairs under the leadership of Avigdor Lieberman has reset Israel’s
Too many parts of the world have been neglected
since the beginning of the ‘Oslo Process.’ It might be astonishing to learn that
until Lieberman’s visit to Brazil only weeks after attaining his position, his
was the first visit by a senior Israeli official to the largest nation in Latin
America since 1993. Simply put, we are playing catch up in a region neglected by
past Israeli governments, while Iran and the Arab world made major
This example could be used as a paradigm for many other parts of
the world. However, this is all changing.
Israel now has more embassies
and consulates (many reopened after being closed under previous administrations)
In addition to strengthening diplomatic ties with multiple
nations, economic relations have also been solidified: trade volume has grown,
and many agreements of economic cooperation have been signed in the fields of
taxation, investments protection, Free Trade Zones and the exchange of economic
Much of this is not glamorous front-page news, but it has
proven vital as Israel enters an era of immense challenges, including preventing
a nuclear Iran, stemming the battle against Israel’s legitimacy and working
against the passage of a unilaterally declared Palestinian state at the United
While the latter appears to be almost impossible to prevent, its
legitimacy is far from assured, and Israel’s message that Palestinian
unilateralism will entrench the conflict and embolden Palestinian intransigence
is gradually being understood.
MANY DEVELOPING nations in Africa and
Asia, previously written off as part of the automatic majority against Israel,
are receiving their first high-level Israeli delegations for many
Another factor resulting in strengthened ties in these countries
is the work of MASHAV, Israel’s Agency for International Development
Cooperation, which has been significantly enhanced.
Part of our strategy
is an attempt to decouple our relations with other countries from our conflict
with the Palestinians. For too long, we allowed ourselves to be defined by the
conflict, and accepted that a third party – the Palestinians – have a veto on
our relations with nations around the world.
Israel’s acceptance in the
Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), despite intense
lobbying by the Palestinians, is a major achievement of this reoriented
Minister Lieberman has restored Israel’s dignity in its
foreign relations. Our previous foreign policy was not managed with any
orientation, consistency or strategic thought, causing successive political
The way that past governments restrained themselves in the face
of harsh verbal assaults, such as the lack of reaction when President Peres was
humiliated in Davos at the beginning of 2009, led to the slippery slope of
Israel-bashing as the status quo. This led to a bizarre situation whereby any
serial human-rights-abusing nation in the international community could attack
Israel, and Israel’s non-response was perceived as a sign of silent
This allowed Israel’s enemies to dramatically increase
their presence in the political arena in an attempt to defeat us, when they have
failed on the conventional battlefield, economically and through terrorism. To
meet the political, legal, academic and cultural assault on Israel, we are
pursuing a strategy of inclusion, integration and partnership.
past few years Israel has passed United Nations resolutions completely
unconnected to either the conflict or the Holocaust. Our agricultural and
technological know-how, and readiness to help humanity, are heavily supported in
the UN. Unprecedentedly, Israelis have served in the UN forces, earning special
praise in Haiti.
Israel is signing agreements for academic exchanges and
joint research with many nations, and has been accepted as a new member of CERN,
the OECD of the scientific world.
If our opponents look to make us a
pariah, we will become even more integrated. If they seek a boycott, we will
sign more trade agreements. If they propose divestment, we will encourage
greater investment. If they talk of sanctions, we will integrate further into
The challenges of last week were not merely met; our
success is a result of methodical, strategic work on many diplomatic levels,
under a leadership which is attempting to correct many mistakes of the
The test of foreign policy is the results it achieves. A policy of
zero tolerance for the assault on Israel’s legitimacy, coupled with the
expansion and formation of new coalitions, is a long-range investment that is
already proving its worth.
Jerusalem finally has a truly global foreign
policy.The writer is deputy minister of Foreign Affairs.