A fresh perspective: Effective diplomacy

Instead of doing what someone with Israel’s interest at heart should be doing, and blaming Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as the main reason for the lack of peace, Livni blames Bennett.

Nafatali Bennett and Tzipi Livni (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Nafatali Bennett and Tzipi Livni
Tzipi Livni has crossed the bridge separating those whose main concern is the success of Israel, from those whose primary concern is the establishment of a Palestinian state.
In 2006, Aharon Abromovitch was approached by then-newly appointed foreign minister Livni to become director- general of her ministry. The two already knew each other, as Livni was previously justice minister with him as her director-general.
Abromovitch, at first, kindly refused.
He had served the country for many years, and wanted to move on.
But Livni eventually managed to convince Abromovitch to change his mind, telling him: “Come with me to the Foreign Ministry so we can make peace with the Palestinians.” Abromovitch then agreed to join the ministry to serve the cause of peace.
To many readers, this might seem like a nice story, of someone dedicating years of his life to a cause he strongly believed in. However, the truth is that this story is symptomatic of a serious foundational problem in Israeli diplomacy.
Efficiency, in economic terms, is defined as finding the best way to reach one’s goals. Therefore, to be efficient, the first step is to see what goals Abromovitch was serving.
In fact, Livni and Abromovitch defined their goals very clearly: a peace treaty with the Palestinians. Yet the goal of the Foreign Ministry of any country should be very different – to defend the international interests of that country.
If one believes that a Palestinian state is the way to defend that interest, then his decisions can reflect that. However, one should be worried when means and ends are switched around, and what should be simply a means to defend Israel’s interests ends up becoming the final goal in itself.
True diplomacy is not about making peace, nor is it about being friendly with all nations. Diplomacy is about evaluating what one’s country’s interests are, and then acting in accordance with those interests.
Most of the time, making friends is the best way to advance a country’s interests.
Friendships can lead to economic trade and military alliances, and help strengthen the country. Yet this is not always true.
Trying to become best friends with someone who wants to kill you is not a smart strategy. However, if your end goal is to make peace, then you will try to achieve the goal at all costs. This is extremely dangerous. When someone is shooting at you, you need to shoot back – and not run towards him in an attempt to hug him while he is shooting at you.
While Livni today is not foreign minister, she is still the person in government who is in charge of the negotiations with the Palestinians.
Today, once again, we see that Livni does not understand the meaning of true diplomacy.
Since Binyamin Netanyahu has become prime minister, he has been pressured to make concession after concession, while the Palestinians have yet to give anything in return. Netanyahu started by recognizing the need for a Palestinian state, something which goes against everything he had ever stood for. He then declared a settlement freeze. Recently, in order to get the latest round of talks started, he has also released from prison murderous terrorists with blood on their hands.
Netanyahu has already given so much, yet Israel has not received anything in return.
The fact is that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas has yet to concede anything! He refuses to recognize Israel’s right to exist, has not budged on border issues and refuses to concede on the issue of the so-called refugees.
Still, instead of criticizing the Palestinians for the lack of peace, something which might hurt our friendship with them, Livni is criticizing members of the Israeli government. In a recent Facebook post, Livni slammed Economy Minister and Bayit Yehudi leader Naftali Bennett’s goal of using public diplomacy to defend Israel, instead of accepting Palestinian demands.
Livni wrote: “So let’s launch a worldwide campaign as Bennett recommends.
Imagine pictures of our good boys and girls from the ‘Hilltop Youth’ engaged in ‘price-tag’ activities. (Okay, fine, not the price tags on churches and monasteries, which is after all unpleasant), and the caption on the broadcast would be: Israel has decided – sovereignty over everything.
“Or: This isn’t South Africa, Palestinians are not second-class citizens – they’re not citizens at all.
“Or: We’re always in the right, and when we said peace, we didn’t really mean it.
“Or: Zionism is Judaism, and not democracy.
The ‘new Israel’ (which is like the ‘new politics’ and should catch on), erases from the Declaration of Independence the words ‘freedom, justice and equal rights.’” Livni, the justice minister of the State of Israel, is so intent on seeing the Palestinians as peace partners that she has embraced their narrative. She is, indeed, running towards them while they are shooting at us. Instead of explaining Israel’s side of the story, she ridicules anyone trying to do so.
Instead of doing what someone with Israel’s interest at heart should be doing, and blaming Abbas’s refusal to recognize Israel as the main reason for the lack of peace, Livni blames Bennett.
At the same time, Livni keeps bringing up the threat of the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement against Israel. Without a peace treaty, she says, the European boycott will move from settlements to the rest of country.
Let us ignore for now that there is currently no European boycott, not even in the settlements. How can Livni on the one hand warn against boycotts, and on the other hand criticize Bennett for trying to stop them? The answer is very simple: Livni is not thinking of Israel’s interests anymore.
She is thinking of her beloved peace process. She has stopped yearning to defend Israel, and now yearns to see the establishment of a Palestinian state. After all, the secularist Livni has said recently that she would be willing to wear the ultra- Orthodox shtreimel if it would bring peace.
As such, she is strategically using her warnings against boycotts. These warnings are better defined as threats by Livni to the Israeli people: Help me establish a Palestinian state, or you will suffer.
On the other hand, she refuses any alternative solution to this threat that does not end with the establishment of a Palestinian state, and attacks anyone who tries to bring one up.
Strategically, if her goal is not the good of Israel but rather the establishment of a Palestinian state, it makes sense: Use scare tactics to scare people about the current situation, and make the only available solution a Palestinian state.
The danger that I described before, of a diplomat making his end goal bringing a peace treaty, has become a reality. Livni is the result of such a way of thinking.
Israel is now at a crucial turning point. One cannot deny that international pressure is accumulating, and that even our American friends have become more critical of Israel. It is specifically at this time that Israel needs efficient diplomacy, and not people like Tzipi Livni. For Israel to continue growing and succeeding, Livni and all those who think like her must go.
Those whose end goal is the success of Israel can then argue politely between themselves about whether the best way to get to that goal is through the establishment of a Palestinian state, or not.  The writer is an attorney who graduated from McGill University Law School and Hebrew University’s honors graduate program in public policy. He is currently working as a research fellow at the Kohelet Policy Forum.