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Colette Avital

Former Israeli Ambassador to Portugal and Labor Party MK. Served for nearly 40 years in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and held, among others, the position of Consul General in New York. Currently serves as chair of the Organization for Holocaust survivors in Israel. 

What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?

The biggest advantage of Israeli diplomacy has always been the human factor: it has a unique cadre of talented, educated and creative people. They know how to deal with complex situations, to develop and forge strong ties with influential individuals and organizations, and to utilize unconventional approaches when necessary. Israeli diplomats have achieved all this while constantly doing their utmost to advance the core interests of the State of Israel. Unfortunately, in recent times many have chosen to leave the Israeli diplomatic service.

Photo: Yaakov Saar, GPO

What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?

We have three primary weaknesses: First, the absence of a coherent political strategy. Second, the absence of any Israeli political initiative, and the distribution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ core issues amongst various other governmental ministries. These bodies both lack the necessary experience to conduct diplomatic tasks, and do so without properly coordinating with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. And finally, Israel’s ambivalent relations with Europe and its various institutions.

What do you think is the most important opportunity Israeli diplomacy currently has?

Resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. I believe that we have missed several opportunities (as did the other side), but that there is still a chance to reach a solution. Only this will truly open the door to the Arab world for us.

What is the central challenge and/or threat Israeli diplomacy faces?

There are two central threats: internal and external. The internal threat - in the absence of a resolution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict - is a binational state, which will effectively spell the destruction of the Zionist project; and the external threat is, of course, Iran.

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