In Brief: Foreign minister Lapid reverses Netanyahu-era neglect of diplomacy

Foreign minister Yair Lapid (Sapir Academic College, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons).

Israel’s neglect of public advocacy and diplomacy in recent years led to a rise in antisemitism and support for Palestinian terrorist organisations, Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid said on Sunday, in a strong rebuke of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“They are doing this because no one explains to them what is really happening here”, Lapid said. “They are doing this because Israel’s enemies invested money, time and effort”.

By contrast, he said, Netanyahu had “throttled the foreign ministry for political reasons”.

Netanyahu moved key diplomatic functions to his own prime minister’s office and imposed budget cuts that caused the foreign ministry to temporarily suspend most of its diplomatic activities.

Lapid stressed that Israel has many more friends in the world than it often appeared, and that it was necessary to widen Israel’s diplomatic circles even further.

He pointed to his recent meetings with EU foreign ministers in Brussels, the improvement of relations with neighbouring Jordan, and the opening of embassies in the UAE and Morocco in recent weeks.

Lapid also spoke of the many friends of Israel who had been alienated by Netanyahu’s policies and appeals to the hard right around the world.

“No one spoke with them. Instead, we insulted them and made speeches against them”, he said; nodding in particular to Netanyahu’s alienation of the Democrats in the United States.

“We will work with them in a different fashion”, he committed. “We will conduct a dialogue, argue when we must. We will not immediately declare that everyone who doesn’t agree with us is an anti-Semite and Israel-hater. This is not how you handle a country’s foreign relations”.