The Arena | Shlomo Avineri

Shlomo Avineri

Professor Emeritus of Political Science in the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and Israel Prize Laureate. Served as Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the first government of Yitzhak Rabin.

What is the most significant advantage Israeli diplomacy currently enjoys?

Israel’s image as a democratic, liberal and open country in a hostile region, and its ability to safeguard these achievements despite being constantly under threat.

What is the greatest disadvantage that Israeli diplomacy suffers from?

Israel will never gain international legitimacy - certainly not from Western democracies - for its ongoing control of the Palestinians in the Territories. Furthermore, any attempt at annexation, open or covert, will only draw more criticism. Israel is making a serious mistake when it equates criticism of its policies in the Territories with criticism of its very existence.

Photo: Oded Raanan

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

To keep open the possibility for a future settlement with the Palestinians, even if we are unable to reach one in the present.

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

Israel repeatedly voices its discontent with criticism leveled at it by Western democracies regarding its policies in the Territories. This threatens to alienate friendly states and harm their support for Israel, its right to exist, and its national security. Not everyone who criticizes Israel's settlement policy is an Israel-hater, even if this criticism is at times exaggerated and absurd.

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