Foreign ministry staff unaware of Lieberman's 'deep' reform plan

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced Monday that plans for a major reform inside the Foreign Ministry were in the works, but said nobody has told senior officials in the ministry itself. "The Foreign Ministry is in the midst of a very deep and wide internal process to look at its role in the new era," Lieberman said at a press conference in the Knesset. He said that changing the role of the foreign ministry was a real necessity because the "reality of the international arena has changed dramatically." According to Lieberman, "traditional diplomacy" was leaving center stage, being replaced by "direct contacts, direct meetings and communications between heads of state. A big part of the world agenda is set not by diplomats, but by NGOs." He also said that the internet was changing everything, as had been demonstrated by recent events in Iran. "The Foreign Ministry must become compatible with this new reality, and we are in the midst of a deep and wide process, and I'm glad that until now it has not been reported from the Foreign Ministry," he said, adding that everything would become apparent in the coming weeks. However, senior ministry officials said they knew of no reform plan, and attributed Lieberman's statement about such a plan to his desire to remain relevant. "There is no reform underway in the Foreign Ministry," said one senior official, unequivocally. According to this official, Lieberman had been sidelined in the diplomatic process - blackballed by the Arab countries, sidelined in the negotiations with the US and unwanted by the Europeans - and as a result had come up with the idea of reform to show that he was doing something about it. A spokesman for the ministry referred queries about the reform to Lieberman's personal spokesman, who said details of the reform would be made public in the coming weeks, and that those in the ministry who needed to know about it, "know about it."