Netanyahu and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former Israeli diplomats don’t fade away, they just try to conduct diplomacy through different -- some say illegitimate -- means.
The same day news broke that three former ambassadors actively lobbied Brazil to scuttle the appointment of former settlement leader Dani Dayan as Israel's next ambassador there, a group of ex-ambassadors to France met in Paris Monday with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and called on him to put Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to the “test of peace” and answer the premier's call for a meeting.
According to a statement put out by the ex-ambassadors – Yehuda Lancry, Elie Barnavi, Nissim Zvili and Daniel Shek -- Abbas said that he responded positively many times in the past to these calls, and was willing to do so this time as well.
The statement said that Abbas said that efforts to renew the talks between the sides should continue even as “passions flare in Jerusalem.”' The four described themselves in the statement as “Israeli patriots” for whom “the future of the country is more important to them than anything else.”
Ha'aretz reported on Monday that one of them, Barnavi, teamed up with former Foreign Ministry director-general and ex-ambassador to South Africa Alon Liel, and with former envoy to South Africa Ilan Baruch,, in actively lobbying Brazil against the appointment of Dani Dayan, who served as former head of the Council of Communities in Judea and Samaria and lives beyond the Green Line.
According to Haaretz, the three ambassadors were among a group of left-wing activists, affiliated with the Peace NGO Forum, who met two weeks ago with the Brazilian ambassador to Israel and the PA and said that agreeing to Dayan's appointment would be akin to legitimizing the settlement enterprise.
Yediot Ahronot reported on Sunday that Brazil's Prime Minister Dilma Rousseff had sent messages to Jerusalem expressing her discomfort with the appointment. The Argentinian born Dayan, a native Spanish speaker who also speaks Portuguese, is a political appointment selected by Netanyahu.
Liel, in an interview Monday on Army Radio, defend the decision to work against the appointment in Brasilia, rather than opposing it in Israel, by saying that “if I thought that my camp could get into government, then I would work in Israel.”
Since the ideology that he supports has no chance of getting into power in the foreseeable future, Liel said, “this is the decision that we took. It is possible to save the idea of a two state solution only by turning to the international community, because if we were to rely on the Israeli public, it would not be possible to establish two states.”
Liel spearheaded an online petition last year to get European parliaments to recognize a Palestinian state based on the pre-1967 lines.
His lobbying against Dayan drew fierce criticism from various corners.
Zionist Union MK Sheli Yachimovich termed the action of Liel and the other two ambassadors “infuriating” and “idiotic.' Yachimovich, who termed Dayan was a “friend” and said he was supremely suited for the position, asked the ex-ambassadors what they were thinking “running to Brazil.”
“If you have a problem that he is on the right, that he lives in the settlements, shake the world and campaign against it here.,” she wrote on her facebook page. “Why do you run to a foreign government to thwart a governmental decision of the government of Israel.
“I have something else to reveal to you, and it will be painful,” she continued. “A right wing government governs in Israel. It was democratically elected by the citizens of Israel, and it appoints ambassadors – some from the diplomatic corps and some who reflect its world view – just as previous Israeli governments did.”.
Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon also related to the incident on his Facebook page, saying that attempts by “elements from within to slander Israel in this way is embarrassing, dangerous and ugly. If someone is looking for a reason why Israel is attacked by elements abroad and suffers from de-legitimization, the behavior of these elements -- Israeli citizens who lost their shame and are affiliated with the political fringes -- are an example.”
Ya'alon said that political arguments should be conducted inside Israel, and not through “foul means” that harm Israel and its citizens.