Lieutenant General (res.), former IDF Spokesperson and senior official in the Israeli foreign service
What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?
Israeli diplomacy enjoys two primary advantages: the first is the caliber of the Israeli foreign service’s diplomats - highly talented people, who truly believe in their mission. The second is the branding of Israel as an innovative, advanced, developed, and unique nation – "the start-up nation" – for which it receives significant international attention from the financial, economic, technological and other sectors. This is a good starting point for political statecraft.
Photo: Avner Yaron, courtesy of the author
What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?
There simply isn't enough creativity and innovation in Israel’s diplomatic tools and tactics. We have been working with the same methods for far too long. We lack the incentives that would stimulate excellent and creative diplomatic activities, which adapt to the spirit of the age. This stands in complete contrast to the image of Israel as an innovative nation.
What do you think is the most important opportunity Israeli diplomacy currently has?
To exploit the positive public image of Israel in a wide variety of fields - economic, business, security, cultural and more - and to demonstrate entrepreneurship. Furthermore, we must adopt an innovative and pro-active stance in the field of foreign policy, and particularly in regard to our relations with the Palestinians and other states in the region.
What is the central challenge and/or threat Israeli diplomacy faces?
The central challenge Israeli diplomacy faces is that the Foreign Ministry is being sidelined and becoming irrelevant! The is being done is several ways: the Ministry’s core responsibilities and powers are being distributed to other government ministries and agencies; it lacks a full-time Foreign Minister; and it is held in low regard in the Israeli political and public arenas. Thus, primary diplomatic issues and burning foreign affairs issues are managed by other ministries and parties: The Prime Minister's Office, the Mossad, various counselors and emissaries, the Ministry of Strategic Affairs, and others.
Against this backdrop, many excellent and professional staff members are quitting the Ministry, and it is why the Foreign Service finds it increasingly difficult to attract young and talented people. The decline of the Foreign Ministry cannot have anything but a significant and detrimental impact on Israeli diplomacy overseas.