During a debate at the State Control Committee on Monday, a number of MK’s argued that Israel’s foreign policy and public diplomacy (Hasbara) require a more unified voice. This includes appointing a new minister to take over the Foreign Ministry position, which the Prime Minister currently holds.
MK Elharrar remarked, “During this time, when the State of Israel is dealing on a daily basis with an intensifying delegitimizaiton campaign, attacks by UNESCO on the historic link between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, one-sided resolutions against Israel in the UN`s Human Rights Council and even attacks on us in the World Health Organization, don`t you think we need to appoint a foreign minister who will act to improve Israel`s standing in the international community?”
Netanyahu countered by saying that the success of Israel’s public diplomacy is measured by its diplomatic ties, foreign trade and public opinion. “Today Israel is perceived more and more as an asset and an influencing element in the world because of our war on terror and our technological achievements… We have achieved free trade with China, a 30 percent increase in trade with India, an agreement with Japan on protecting rigs, military coordination with Russia, initial ties with a host of African countries, heads of state visiting Israel for the first time, the normalization of ties with Turkey, and every week I meet with four heads of state. Israel`s foreign policy is a great success. Despite some specific successes [of the delegitimization campaign against Israel], we have defeated the boycott movement in many arenas.”
It is true that the scope of Israel`s connections with countries around the world has never been broader, especially after Netanyahu’s recent visit to Africa after which several African countries strengthened their diplomatic and economic ties with Israel.
Netanyahu then went on to state that the obstacles to peace between Israel and Palestinians is the incitement of Abbas and the PA to murder Jews and the refusal of the PA to recognize the Jewish state.
The constant hostile resolutions against Israel during times of conflict and continuous movements to boycott Israeli products are a clear sign that Israel needs improvement in its public diplomacy. Netanyahu says Israel is “working to annul the automatic majority against us in international forums” by improving relations with African, Latin and Asian countries.
Others such as MK Zehava Galon of Meretz argue that “Israel will have to choose between its democratic values and international legitimacy.”