Liberman at press conference.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Less than a week after Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman warned in back to back speeches of economic damage to Israel if its diplomatic standing in the world did not improve, he convened an interministerial meeting in his office that came to the same judgment and whose conclusions were sent out to Israel’s representatives abroad in the form of what to expect in 2015.
Yediot Aharonot, a newspaper strongly opposed to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, led its front page on Tuesday with the following headline: “The boycott of Israel will get worse,” and reporting that this was the chilly forecast that emerged from a classified Foreign Ministry document.
That document, a page-anda- half diplomatic cable, summarized a December 28 meeting that Liberman convened in his office. The cable was signed by Foreign Ministry deputy-director general Gilad Cohen.
The argument that a lack of diplomatic initiative on Israel’s part has led to growing international isolation and will lead to economic fallout has emerged as a theme in Liberman’s election campaign, as well as in the campaigns of Labor-Hatnua and Yesh Atid.
Yediot reported that according to the cable the assessment in Jerusalem is that “American influence is succeeding at the present in delaying practical decisions [against Israel] until after the election. Nevertheless, in light of the systematic Palestinian policy to move the conflict to the UN, there is no guarantee that the US will continue to use its veto after the elections.”
The cable, according to the report, warned of a number of punitive economic actions that might be taken against Israel.
“The Europeans are clearly creating a link between their diplomatic relations and their economic ones, and it is worth remembering that Europe is Israel’s primary trade partner,” the cable read.
On December 24, in a Tel Aviv speech, Liberman – presenting himself as a representative of the pragmatic camp, as opposed to the utopian Left and the “extreme fanatical national camp that ignores reality” – said there was a direct connection these days between economic and diplomatic relations.
“We are seeing how the changes in relations between states influence the economy,” Liberman said in that speech.
Therefore, he added, “When I speak about economics and policy, we have to understand that our biggest market, both import and export, is Europe.
We cannot ignore that fact.”
Among the sanctions that Europe may impose, according to the Foreign Ministry cable, are boycotting goods from the settlements; restricting military exports to Israel, including the export of spare parts; the divestment from Israel by major European financial institutions; and the refusal of large European companies to take part in massive Israeli infrastructure projects.
In addition, the cable warns of the possibility of increased academic boycotts.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no response to the report.