Jeff Barak headshot 58.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
For all his troublemaking, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman sometimes does get
it right when it comes to making appointments.
His decision to appoint
Ron Prosor as ambassador to the UN, approved at the end of last week, finally
means the country will have one of its most talented diplomats in this sensitive
and demanding job.
Prosor is no stranger to hostile
As ambassador to the UK for the past four years, he has
been at the forefront of opposing the growing European trend to delegitimize
Polite and polished, while also forceful and unapologetic, this
former Foreign Ministry director-general will bring some much-needed stature to
our UN delegation.
As the recent Security Council resolution condemning
settlement policy showed, our status at the UN is becoming more and more
The resolution had almost 120 cosponsors, and Jerusalem had to
rely on Washington’s reluctant veto to nullify the vote of the other 14 council
members in favor of declaring settlements illegal.
Palestinians were ultimately unsuccessful, it’s clear that international
sympathy lies with them and that this vote lays the diplomatic foundation for a
unilateral Palestinian move to receive UN backing for an independent state later
this year, despite Israeli and American opposition. As Lieberman correctly
understands, this is not the time to be sending an amateur to represent
And in another recent appointment, Lieberman continued to buck the
trend of posting a political hack or a no-longer-wanted senior aide to a plum
position, and filled the vacant consul-general post in New York with Ido
Aharoni, former head of the Brand Israel team at the Foreign
Aharoni is the perfect man for the job: His English is fluent,
he performs well on television and with two previous US postings behind him,
including one as the consulate’s spokesman, he understands the American public
and knows how to calibrate his message to meet American media
Although the ambassador to Washington is seen as the country’s
senior diplomat in the US, it’s the consul-general who sets the tone for its
image, given New York’s role as America’s news media capital.
was also right to reject Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s plan to send former
National Security Council head Uzi Arad to London as a replacement for Prosor:
Arad’s combative nature and uncompromising positions would have given our
enemies in Britain a field day.
But before we get too carried away in
praise of the foreign minister, we should note that Lieberman’s motives in this
instance were more to snub Netanyahu, who had leaked his wish to send Arad to
London, than anything else.
OF COURSE, given Netanyahu’s dysfunctional
style of governing and inability to make a decision, these two appointments have
been made months after the posts became open, scandalously leaving us
represented at the UN by a relatively junior stand-in. While it’s not unusual
for prime ministers and foreign ministers to disagree over candidates for top
diplomatic jobs, the protracted wrangling between Netanyahu and Lieberman set a
new record for tardiness in filling crucial posts.
The fact that neither
Prosor nor Aharoni was Lieberman’s first choice for their new jobs – Netanyahu
vetoed the foreign minister’s original suggestions – does not detract from their
suitability. But both men, in spite of their diplomatic talents, are going to
find themselves stretched to the very limits to represent this
Will Prosor be representing Netanyahu’s official position
(however hollow it now sounds) that Israel is still seeking a negotiated peace
deal with the Palestinians which will culminate in a two-state solution, or that
of Lieberman, who has used the very podium of the General Assembly to rip into
the very possibility of a peace agreement based on land-for-peace? And how will
Aharoni defend the country’s image as “the only real democracy in the Middle
East” when its foreign minister has been leading the charge to establish
political committees to investigate the funding of nongovernmental organizations
with whom he happens to disagree? The problem the country faces is not one of
hasbara; it’s one of policy. After two years of Netanyahu’s government, it’s
clear he has no vision for Israel, and that the demographic threat to a future
as a Jewish and democratic country is getting closer and closer to
When long-standing friends such as German Chancellor Angela
Merkel tell the prime minister they no longer believe a word he says when he
talks about readiness to make bold moves for peace, even the best diplomats are
going to have their jobs cut out for them in defending this government’s
policies.The writer is a former editor-in-chief of
The Jerusalem Post.