During Monday`s meeting of the State Control Committee, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said new ministers will soon be appointed to take over some of the ministerial portfolios he currently holds. Netanyahu currently serves as Prime Minister, Foreign Minister, Minister of the Economy, Minister of Communications and Minister of Regional Cooperation.
The debate centered on Israel`s foreign relations and the fact that the government has yet to appoint a full-time foreign minister. Committee Chairwoman MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) said, ”The Foreign Ministry is supposed to be solely in charge of the Hasbara (public diplomacy) policy, but new ministries have been set up, and this hurts the State of Israel`s ability to present good and unified hasbara.” She added that ”there are no guidelines which distribute the responsibility among the various ministries, no work procedures have been determined, and there is a lack of cooperation, lack of order and lack of management.”
Turning to PM Netanyahu, MK Elharrar said, ”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?”
(Committee Chairwoman Elharrar and PM Netanyahu)
In response, Netanyahu said new ministers would soon be appointed to take over some of the portfolios he holds, but claimed that ”in every country, the foreign policy has always been determined and managed by the prime minister. I have been dealing with hasbara-related issues for 35 years; Israel has always suffered from attacks and international boycotts, but Hasbara is not a goal, it is a means to achieve economic, diplomatic and strategic goals.”
The prime minister said Israel`s public diplomacy efforts can be measured by the scope of its trade with foreign countries, its diplomatic ties 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,” he told the committee.
”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,” Netanyahu said. ”Despite some specific successes [of the delegitimization campaign against Israel], we have defeated the boycott movement in many arenas.”
”The National Information Directorate operates well from within the Prime Minister`s Office through tight and quality cooperation with the other government offices. The test will be – will they try to tie our hands in the form of hostile resolutions in the Security Council during a military confrontation. During [military operations] `Pillar of Defense` and `Protective Edge` there was no such intervention.”
Netanyahu continued to say that ”Our policy is to bring peace with the Palestinians based on a demilitarized Palestinian state that will recognize the State of Israel, and the last thing I should do is draw a border, because what matters most is what will be beyond the border: Switzerland, ISIStan or Hamastan. The real apartheid is the ethnic cleansing the Palestinians seek to do to the Jews, and the thing that has prevented peace between us and the Arabs since 1920 has been the Arab refusal to recognize the Jewish state, within any borders.”
By turning to African and Latin American countries, Israel is ”working to annul the automatic majority against us in international forums,” the prime minister revealed, stating that ”Iran would have had nuclear weapons a long time ago had it not been for Israel`s actions.”
Netanyahu further said Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ”pays monthly salaries to terrorists who murdered Jews, and this salary rises according to the number of Jews murdered.”
Addressing Israel`s relations with the US, the prime minister said they are ”strong,” ”deep” and based on shared values and interests. ”The American public views Israel as a front-line stronghold of western culture,” he said.
During the meeting, MK Yoel Hasson (Zionist Camp) complained about the salaries of the Foreign Ministry`s employees, while MK Tzipi Livni (Zionist Camp) stressed the PM`s failure to prevent the agreement between the US and Iran. MK Zehava Galon (Meretz) said, ”Israel will have to choose between its democratic values and international legitimacy.”
According to MK Yael German (Yesh Atid), the prime minister ”has led us to an unprecedented low in our relations with the United States.,” while MK Michael Oren (Kulanu) argued that the scope of Israel`s connections with countries around the world has never been broader.