While high-ranking government officials have been criticizing US Secretary of State John Kerry, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman has made it his goal to make Israel’s cooperation with the United States a priority in Israel’s national security policy.
Lieberman sent out a classified document titled “Top priorities for Israel’s foreign policy in 2015” to Israeli ambassadors worldwide with detailed instructions on how to conduct foreign relations in the year ahead.
After saying that “Europe does not understand” what is happening in the Middle East, Lieberman made it a point to strengthen Israel’s dialogue with Europe among the goals outlined in the document.
The document, signed by Foreign Ministry Director Nissim Ben-Shitrit, was distributed to all ambassadors of Israel in the world as well as department heads in all divisions.
The eight-page document expressed the Foreign Ministry’s aims to increase coordination with the American administration against Iran’s nuclear program, the Islamic State, and international initiatives that seek to isolate Israel. It was further noted that the Foreign Ministry will aim to promote a diplomatic solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and create a regional security framework in the coming year. Further resources will be used to combat efforts to de-legitimize Israel and anti-Semitism.
The key goals of Israeli foreign policy for 2015
Conserve and strengthen strategic cooperation with the US
The document states that “Israel has a primary interest in maintaining the strategic partnership, common goals and close relations between the two countries and their leaders. Full coordination is needed between the two countries regarding the Iranian issue, the future of the peace process, the need for a multilateral approach in the UN, rather than the unilateral approach of the Palestinians against Israel, demilitarization of Gaza, and dealing with regional threats.
"Israel's foreign policy will strive to guarantee Israel's security and advance means preserving its qualitative edge and military deterrence, and continued active American political support in the international arena, while preventing anti-Israeli initiatives in the United Nations and international organizations. Another objective is the continuation of Israel's ties with new communities, including immigrant communities in the US, liberal circles, academic officials and the younger generation of Jews in America that is less connected to Israel."
Promoting diplomatic arrangements and partnerships in the region
According to the document, “The coming period will be characterized by high uncertainty, especially in terms of how the results of Operation Protective Edge will affect the resumption of the peace process. Israel has the opportunity to advance on the war with Hamas to achieve a diplomatic solution (possibly regional) and use this momentum to demilitarize Hamas and demonstrate a commitment to the diplomatic process.
“Work must be done to lay the groundwork with the US, the Quartet, and neighboring countries to support Israel’s initiatives so that sufficient solutions can be found that respond to expectations and conditions on the ground and promote Israeli interests in the regional challenges it faces. The right conditions must be created for the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, part of the ceasefire agreement after Operation Protective Edge, and for the Strip’s rehabilitation. The second stage will be to create an international mechanism to deal with the smuggling of weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Strengthening Israel’s diplomatic position on national security
According to the document, there is "a diplomatic aversion of strategic threats such as nuclear Iran, terrorist threats and various forms of radical Islam. There must be further cooperation with the US and the rest of the P5+1 regarding the Iranian nuclear issue. Israel must continue to influence the nature of the arrangement and ensure monitoring and enforcement mechanisms that would enable sufficient warning in case Iran chooses to progress further with its military nuclear program.
"There must be continuous understanding of diplomatic and security aims with the US and relevant countries in the event of a change in the status of Iran’s nuclear program. This includes upholding the sanctions against Iran, leveraging ties with the US, and considering regional developments in order to promote a diplomatic agreement and security framework with the cooperation of relevant countries. Furthermore, there must be continued development of relations with relevant countries in Africa and Asia aimed at improving homeland security and the prevention of terrorism.”
The document also states that, “In regards to the increasing threat of non-national organizations, including the Islamic State, and the instability of the regimes in Syria and Iraq, Israel must work with the US, while clarifying the Israeli perception of the existing threats. Other joint initiatives with the US should include preventing the legitimacy and power of Hamas and Hezbollah, preventing Iran from supporting terrorist groups, and destabilizing dangerous regimes in the region."
The document states that, "By giving the European Union an active role and involving it in efforts to reach regional agreements (the reconstruction of Gaza, preventing atms smuggling and the peace process), Israel could continue and upgrade its dialogue with Europe in order to prevent sanctions and pressure imposed on Israel."
Another subject brought up in the document is the “reinforcement and legitimization of Israel’s status as a Jewish, democratic state and the efforts needed to strengthen the legitimacy and recognition of Israel’s position, especially in Europe, as a basis for ensuring economic and social prosperity.”
It was also stated that action should be taken "to advance and protect national interests in the international arena, maintaining the legitimacy of Israel as a state operating under the rule of law and in the spirit of international norms. The formulation of a coordinated and clear policy in response to the challenges in the international arena following Operation Protective Edge, including dealing with UN inquiry commission headed by William Schabas; the expansion of joint operations with the UN and international organizations; fight against the renewed Palestinian effort for international recognition; an effort to adapt international law to fighting in civilian areas; place emphasis on positioning Israel as the epitome of entrepreneurship by recruiting the Israeli private sector and civic society."
The document includes instructions to strengthening the mutual solidarity and practical partnership between Israel and the Diaspora. The ministry stated it will work to "combat the rising issue of anti-Semitism in Europe, and in Latin America, strengthening Jewish communities' position and improving their diplomatic abilities."
This is be done alongside support and aid the Diaspora communities in dealing with security issues; establishing ties with key liberal elements in the Jewish world and strengthening the ties with different religious factions within Judaism, as well as strengthening the ties of younger generations of Jews living abroad with Israel."
The last point of the document focused on "developing a new economic agenda, continuing Israel’s integration in to the global economy, with an emphasis on the development of new export markets, and increasing Israel’s foreign aid budget to the OECD level to make Israel a more prominent contributor."