The Arena | Daniel Shek

Daniel Shek

Former Israeli ambassador to France

What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?

Due to unfortunate circumstances, Israel has found itself at the center of international attention from the day of its establishment. For this reason, despite its small size, Israel has always been playing in the major leagues. Consequently, its diplomatic staff is for the most part highly qualified, facing a level of expectations much higher than other countries. As a result, Israeli diplomacy has a disproportionately large impact over the world, which it can use to advance its interests in a wide range of fields.

What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?

The greatest disadvantage Israeli diplomacy suffers from derives from its one-dimensional image, having everything examined through the prism of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This perception makes it very difficult to advance any unrelated agendas. For example, we experienced significant difficulties in signing treaties with the European Union due to what was then called “linkage”. This term refers to the linking of international agreements on a wide variety of topics with our progress in the peace process. This factor occasionally burdens our diplomatic activities to this day.

Photo: Daniel Mordzinsky, courtesy of the author

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

Without a doubt, the most important opportunity for Israeli diplomacy is the fact that significant geopolitical shifts are occurring throughout the Middle East region, which can only be seized by resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The region is ripe for change, and a window of opportunity is opening. If Israel can take advantage of these positive developments, it will truly upgrade its international status and secure its integration into the region – and ultimately guarantee its security in the long run.

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

The immediate threat to Israeli diplomacy, odd as this may seem, is the possibility that the world will eventually lose its interest in attempting to resolve the conflict, and, more broadly, in Israel itself. Beyond the fact that the absence of a resolution will place Israel's security at risk, the loss of interest on the part of the world will undermine the primary strength that I previously mentioned: Israel's significant influence in international affairs.

Navigate
Search Site
Subscribe to Our Newsletter

And stay up to date with the latest articles, briefs, and op-eds by leading experts from Israel and abroad