'Lack of Israeli policy encourages delegitimization'

Ex-UN envoy Dan Gillerman tells Finance Ministry symposium that risk of isolation is greater than ever before.

By NADAV SHEMER
March 1, 2011 04:28
2 minute read.
'Lack of Israeli policy encourages delegitimization'

Gillerman. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

A lack of Israeli leadership in the diplomatic arena has boosted the delegitimization campaign against it, former ambassador to the UN Dan Gillerman said on Monday.

“We, in the last two years, haven’t taken initiative, haven’t shown resourcefulness, haven’t shown leadership, and haven’t led any policy in any place that indicates any chance for discussion, any chance for a change in the situation,” Gillerman said at the annual symposium of the Ministry of Finance’s Budgets Department in Jerusalem.

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“I think that we’ve lost our vision. I think that we’ve lost our courage in many areas, and in the diplomatic arena we are adopting a policy of sit and don’t do – which, in this situation of earthquakes and daily aftershocks that we are witnessing around us, is the most dangerous thing to do.”

Citing a rise in the number of canceled visits to Israel from friendly nations, Gillerman, who served as ambassador from 2003-2008 and is now chairman of the Tel Aviv-based private investment firm Markstone Capital Group, said the risk of being isolated and delegitimized was now greater than ever.

He also apportioned blame to the foreign policy of the Obama administration, saying its policy of appeasement had created the perception that the United States was weak, and that its public exposure of the diplomatic rift with Israel had created a vacuum now filled by the countries’ enemies.

Gillerman said Israel must take immediate steps to repair the relationship with the US, and must create a dialogue with the entire Arab world, pointing to the turmoil in the Middle East as evidence that “time is not on our side.”

“Today, the clock is running more quickly, and a policy of ‘let’s sit and not do,’ or a policy of ‘let’s wait and see what happens,’ are destructive policies that in the end will bring us, in my opinion, to more isolation and more delegitimization,” he said. “This is the time to come to at least a dialogue not just with the Palestinians, but with the Arab world, with the Arab League.”

He warned that failure to end the campaign against Israel would eventually affect the Israeli economy, saying rapid economic growth could not otherwise continue.

“In the end it will influence investors; in the end it will influence industry; in the end we will see that the economy suffers from the same isolation and the same delegitimization, despite the fact that it [the economy] is global, despite the fact that our technology knows no bounds.”

President Shimon Peres also spoke at the symposium, telling the audience that the mass protests staged across the Arab world in the past two months could pave the way for the new Middle East he envisioned in his Nobel Peace Prize acceptance speech in 1994.

Describing the history of China’s and India’s transformations into economic and technological powerhouses, he added that if it could happen there, “why couldn’t it happen in Egypt?”


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