Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman plans to ask the cabinet to triple the annual sum earmarked for Mashav, Israel's Agency for International Development Cooperation, in next year's budget, the Yedioth Ahronoth daily has learned.
Mashav's current budget stands at NIS 40 million (about $10.5 million), and Lieberman would like to triple this amount to a total of NIS 120 million (about $31.7 million).
One reason for the increased foreign aid allotment is that Israel is slated to become an official member of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). As we all know, respect is something to be earned. Therefore, one of the conditions the prestigious organization stipulated to Israel is that it significantly increase its foreign aid to the Third World.
With this increased foreign aid, Lieberman plans to send hundreds of experts in agriculture, water, and irrigation to underdeveloped states in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. In addition, Israeli experts on alternative energy, public health, education, and internal security will also be sent to these areas.
The plan's objective is threefold. Firstly, it seeks to weaken Iran's influence over these countries. Secondly, the plan aims to improve Israel's image in the world by building a reputation as a country that helps the weak, and, thirdly, to fulfill its obligations to the OECD.
Foreign Minister Lieberman said to Yedioth Ahronoth on Thursday, "As part of our membership in the OECD, Israel must significantly increase the sum it allocates for foreign aid, and we aim to uphold these standards. In addition, because of the Israeli reputation in technology, water, and agriculture, there is demand and an expectation from many countries to receive aid from us in these areas."
Until the Yom Kippur War, Israel was considered a foreign aid powerhouse, sending thousands of experts to aid Africa. The pinnacle came when Golda Meir served as foreign minister. Following the war, many African countries severed ties with Israel, and the experts returned home. Now, demand for Israeli experts has been revived.
Lieberman's plan is dependent on authorization from the cabinet. The Foreign Ministry reported that should the plan be put into force, it will return Israel to the glory days of Golda.