(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Israeli governments harm the country’s security by devoting too much of the country’s resources to defense and not enough to foreign affairs, MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid) said Monday at a meeting launching his new foreign relations caucus at the Knesset.
The caucus will try to pass legislation to improve the status of Israel’s diplomats and make foreign relations a higher priority for the government.
The meeting was attended by Israeli diplomats, foreign ambassadors, and a dozen MKs led by deputy foreign minister Tzachi Hanegbi.
The diplomats complained that ambassadors, consuls, Foreign Ministry staff, and their families around the world face challenging conditions.
They compared what Israel invests in its diplomatic corps to the massive budgets allocated by other Western countries and Iran.
“No country in the world is threatened so much and no country in the world has so few resources to work with, said former Foreign Ministry director-general Yoav Biran, a former ambassador to Britain.
Shira Cohen, a representative of the union of diplomats’ spouses, complained that they received no pension and no recognition from the state even though they devote their lives to Israeli diplomacy.
Opposition leader Isaac Herzog (Labor), who comes from a family of diplomats, said he hopes a deal recently reached between the Foreign Ministry and Treasury on the conditions of Foreign Ministry employees will be implemented and will result in the country’s top young people joining the ministry’s cadet course.
“I know how much of a challenge it is to be a diplomat and that the image of constant cocktail parties is wrong, especially at this time,” Herzog said. “I am not just saying that because my mother was in the first cadet course in 1947.”
Bayit Yehudi MK Orit Struck said the comparisons the diplomats were making between Israel and other countries left out one that was particularly stark.
“It’s absurd when you compare how little we invest in explaining our positions in Europe to how much Europe invests in its attempts to get us to change our policies,” she said.