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Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
Former Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg
 
 

Report: Israel abandoning diplomacy

Foreign Ministry union says number of Israeli emissaries in world has been declining gradually, ministry budget is on par with that of Iran

Attila Somfalvi
Published: 02.13.13, 09:41 / Israel News

Has Israel abandoned foreign relations? If you ask the Foreign Ministry labor union, the answer is yes.

 

A report prepared and publicized Tuesday shows that the number of Israeli representatives in the world is in a continuous decline, in spite of the sensitive state of the country and its PR efforts; in some 35% of the countries with which Israel has relations, there is no representative from Jerusalem.

 

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“Israel has abandoned its PR efforts,” said the Foreign Ministry labor union. “Even as the leaders of the country are aware of the complicated position of Israel within the international community, and realize there is a need for change in everything that is related to the country’s public relations, on the ground, the situation is worse than ever.”

 

The union wrote, “In many of the countries (with which there are relations) no diplomatic activity can repair the foreign relations of Israel, and unfortunately, in the places where we are not, there are many representatives of Arab countries, and of the Palestinian Authority, presenting the situation in a one-sided manner.”

 

The report also showed that the issue of the Foreign Ministry’s budget is not a priority, and in spite of all the challenges – the office is budgeted under its needs. “Abandoning our international PR activity hurts the national security of Israel," the union warned.

 

According to the report, Israel has relations with more than 160 countries, but only in 103 countries are there Israeli diplomatic representatives. Most of Israel’s representatives are in Asia (35), the rest are spread in continental America (27), Europe (21), and Africa (10).

 

In total, Israel is represented by 220 emissaries globally, of these 66 are in Europe, 56 in Asia, 55 in continental America, and 12 in Africa – in addition to the 10 additional diplomats on the continent.

 

The numbers show that the total of Israeli representatives throughout the world has been in decline since the 1970s, and since then, the number of emissaries has also declined. While in the 1980s, Israel was represented by an average 4.5 emissaries per country, today the average is around two.

 

The dismal state of foreign relations is clear when examining the percentage of foreign relations budget from the Gross National Product (GNP), in comparison to other countries. In Israel only 0.15% of the GNP is set aside for foreign relations, a much lower rate when considering countries such as Norway (0.9%), Denmark (0.85%), the UK (0.75%), and Germany (0.4%).

 

Only Iran invests in foreign relations less than Israel – at 0.1% of its GNP.

 

“The main point is that Israel deals with complicated challenges on the international stage,” explained Yaacov Livne of Foreign Ministry labor union. “These challenges have both a clear military and diplomatic aspect. We need capabilities.

 

"This is not only about the current government, or that which came before. There has been a process of serious decline going on for four decades, in the ability of Israel to promote its interests in the world.”

 

Livne added, “The numbers speak for themselves, but we need to invest more money. Today there is a budget of NIS 1.6 billion – a number that does not exist in any country that has foreign relations, especially not in a country like Israel, which faces challenges...Our diplomatic capabilities are in line with that of a third world country not interested relations.“

 

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