During the past few months, Israel’s purported growing isolation has been the
subject of much discussion. It is far from the truth, and it is ironic that this
debate has taken place during an effective Israeli challenge to the
long-standing paradigm of the Palestinians using the United Nations as a “rubber
stamp” for its capricious policies.
For decades at the United Nations,
Palestinian demands, regardless of how spurious or provocative, were granted by
a near wall-to-wall majority in most forums. Recently and almost without
precedent, Palestinian officials have been hearing strong messages of
disapproval and even rejection.
The fact that Palestinian officials,
backed by all the resources of the powerful Arab and Islamic world, are
travelling around the world pleading for, and not receiving, complete
acquiescence for their unilateral declaration of statehood is almost
unparalleled and should not go unnoticed.
However, regardless of the
outcome of provocative Palestinian unilateralism, Israel’s relations and
cooperation in the international arena have rarely been more wide-ranging and
Under the reins of the current political leadership in the
Foreign Ministry, Israel has more embassies and consulates than ever before
(many reopened after being closed under previous administrations), with more
nations requesting Israeli representation our current budget simply cannot
The number of invitations received by Israeli officials to visit
nations across the globe is increasing. More nations than ever before understand
our reoriented foreign policy is opening up more doors, and we are ensuring
greater integration than previously.
Whereas recent governments ignored
vast swathes of the globe, focusing on a few areas that were felt to have sole
strategic importance, our new policy, led by Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman,
is to make inroads into areas of great importance long ignored by former Israeli
We have heard too many leaders in Central and Eastern
Europe, Latin America, Asia and Africa say they were until recently frustrated
by being unduly ignored by Israel.
Many claimed that only when it came to
an issue of central importance to Israel did they hear from our officials. To be
successful in international relations you have to put in constant and consistent
work and effort.
Unfortunately, in many areas we are still playing
catch-up for those years of neglect.
However, even despite these
challenges, we are achieving successes in the international arena, beyond issues
relating to the conflict.
Two notable examples are Israel’s recent
acceptance into the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)
and the European Organization for Nuclear Research (CERN).
in our trilateral cooperation with partner countries like Germany, Canada and
Italy working with nations in the developing world is reaping benefits for the
people of those regions and has helped reframe Israel as a significant partner
in such global issues as combating desertification, water management and modern
In 2009, we held the widely acclaimed and
well-attended Watec Conference. A few months ago we hosted the International
Women Leaders’ Conference on Science, Technology and Innovation which was
attended by women leaders from across the globe, including United Nations Deputy
Secretary- General Asha-Rose Migiro and UNESCO Director-General Irina
Moreover, over the past few years Israel has promoted UN
resolutions completely unconnected to either the conflict or the Holocaust. Our
agricultural and technological know-how, and readiness to help humanity, are
heavily supported in the UN and other international agencies.
the true proof of Israel’s growing inclusion, integration and partnership are
our growing diplomatic ties with numerous
Government-to-government dialogues, where a large number of
government ministers from Israel and another nation meet to discuss matters of
mutual interest and promote a strengthening of bilateral relations, have been
significantly increased with an unprecedented amount of these meetings taking
place in the last few years.
Economic relations have also been
solidified, trade volume has grown, and many agreements of economic cooperation
have been signed in the fields of taxation, investments protection, Free Trade
Zones and the exchange of economic delegations.
This has assisted in the
securing of a strong and stable economy that has seen Israel cope very well with
the international recession.
While we face many challenges with some of
our neighbors, most recent events are the result of changes completely unrelated
to Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians.
The deterioration in
relations with Turkey began long before this government took office. Its most
obvious manifestation was the public humiliation of President Shimon Peres by
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Davos at the beginning of 2009,
during one of the most dovish governments in Israeli history.
new foreign policy has led them into disagreements with many of its neighbors
and Israel stands with Greece, Cyprus, Armenia and the European Union as having
being recently rebuked by the Turkish Government.
The so-called “Arab
Spring” which is sweeping the Middle East and North Africa has no connection to
either Israel or our conflict with the Palestinians. It is hard to predict the
outcome, but if it does lead to greater freedom, democracy and development then
the region will only benefit as a whole.
Regardless, Israel will remain
true to its principles, despite the changes around us. The security and
interests of Israel and its people are second to none on our list of priorities.
This is nonnegotiable and we should not apologize for this, even if it leads to
misunderstandings, including among allies and friends. Israel should not be
asked to accept any less than any other sovereign nation would in a similar
We still face many challenges, but by any measurements our
successes far outweigh any perceived failures and we are on a path to even
Israel is a member of more international forums,
participates in a larger number of important international events, signs and
implements more bilateral agreements and has further integrated into the global
agenda than ever before.
This holistic approach to foreign policy may not
make the headlines, but is the fundamental basis for the strengthening of our
current international standing.
The writer is Israel’s deputy minister of
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